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Clin Chim Acta. 1997 Nov 6;267(1):33-49.

Changes in the American health care system: crisis in the clinical laboratory.

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Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


American medicine is undergoing unprecedented changes, and the resulting distortions are affecting the economics, organization and operations of all clinical laboratories. Professionals who work in these laboratories are facing administrative and economic pressures to reduce costs, to increase productivity, and to comply with proliferating new statutes and regulations. The medical 'cottage industry' in which the patient was the focus of the medical professionals' attention and endeavours is being replaced by the corporate management of many health care activities in which financial profits are being given first priority. Medical facilities, including clinical laboratories, are being bought and sold, being consolidated, or simply being closed. The clinical laboratories may be at the vortex of the maelstrom affecting American medicine. Cost pressures are encouraging further automation and retraining of laboratory staffs. If the leaders in laboratory medicine are unable to accomplish the necessary tasks to meet the new challenges, there inevitably is a non-medical, non-scientific financial manager at hand who is willing to define the changes and the desired outcome. Because of the rapidity of the changes taking place, it is not possible to predict with any confidence the modifications that will achieve a permanent status or the degree to which medical professionals will remain masters of their fates. The evolving health care system will become less costly, more technologically advanced, and a more challenging system in which to work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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