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J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Jul;34(7):1776-8.

Contemporary testing for enteric pathogens: the potential for cost, time, and health care savings.

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Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


We sent a questionnaire to 79 clinical microbiology laboratories seeking information on contemporary practices when investigating for bacterial and protozoan enteric pathogens. Data from the 67 respondents (response rate of 85%) showed that a minority of laboratories (40% for stool culture and 45% for ova and parasite [O&P] examinations) had restrictions for testing in place and that fewer laboratories (24% for stool culture and 19% for O&P examinations) rejected specimens from patients who had been in the hospital for > 3 days. Using two estimates, 15 and 40%, for the proportion of all specimens received from patients in the hospital for > 3 days, we calculated savings for the average hospital in this survey. Reagent savings of $4,000 to $10,000 and time savings of 274 to 731 h per year might have been realized. Moreover, between $26,000 and $71,000 in patient charges could have been prevented. On the basis of this survey, wider application of rejection criteria when testing for enteric pathogens appears possible. If implemented, savings to the nation's health care system could be between $27 and $73 million a year.

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