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Clin Chim Acta. 1997 Nov 6;267(1):51-62.

Laboratory medicine in France. A jeopardized situation.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie, Hôpital Universitaire de Rangueil, Toulouse, France.


The expenses for health care in France have risen considerably during the present decade, ranking third after USA and Canada in the Western world. In spite of the very low cost of laboratory medicine (2.4% of the total expenditure in 1995), clinical laboratories have undergone a severe squeeze, due to two limiting factors; a decrease in the ordering of laboratory tests from private physicians and a reduction in the total expenses for laboratory services from the Social Security. Consequently, there has been unemployment of technical and secretarial staff and severe restriction in investment for buying new equipment. However, hospital laboratories will manage to assume their challenge in developing robotics, automation, molecular pathology techniques and expert systems. Private laboratories, in spite of their efforts to follow the technological advances in automation, will survive thanks to consolidation of regional networks that operate in a cooperative rather than competitive mode. Therefore, the challenge will be not in the adaptation of clinical laboratories, but in the limitation of overspending at the national level and in modification of the behaviour of irresponsible citizens accustomed to spending freely on health care services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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