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Rinsho Byori. 1998 Oct;46(10):972-7.

[Why medical consultation is needed in the clinical laboratory].

[Article in Japanese]

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International Clinical Pathology Center, Tokyo.


During the 20th century, at least until the 1980s, clinical laboratory practice had been rapidly expanded, mainly because of a significant advancement in medicine as a whole and also in laboratory technology. However, recent economic changes in health care environment worldwide have been influencing greatly future trends in clinical laboratory practice. Four major macroeconomic forces drive change in clinical laboratory practice as follows; (1) Increasing cost of health care, (2) Implications of an aging population, (3) Social change in the patient population, and (4) Explosion of new technologies. Obviously, the increasing cost of health care is the primary driver. Considering a rapid change in the health care environment, clearly there are two separate pathways to be considered with regard to future modes of delivering patient care services through the clinical laboratory: commercial independent laboratories and hospital laboratories. In most hospital laboratories, in addition to high-quality, accurate and precise laboratory data being delivered through automated informatics in a timely fashion, laboratory physicians and other laboratorians should be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The primary purpose of this approach is to develop a system in which the physician can order the most efficient number of tests, which will provide the maximum amount of clinically relevant informations most rapidly and most accurately at the least cost to the patient. Laboratory physicians must play a key role particularly in hospital laboratories. Their most important roles include those of a professional supplier of laboratory results being useful for health care and clinically relevant, and that of a consultative role for primary care physicians and other co-medical staffs to make important medical decision, based on laboratory results obtained. Therefore, the Japan Society of Clinical Pathology started in 1990 in publishing a series of proposed guidelines for adequate utilization of laboratory tests in primary health care. Since April, 1997, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare has set a specific fee for the hospitals, where a full-time laboratory physician is responsible for the quality management of its clinical laboratory and the Committee on Adequate Utilization of Laboratory Tests is established in the hospital. For the future 21st Century, laboratory scientists including physicians and technologists must change their concept and attitude in order to provide quality laboratory service with the minimal laboratory cost to the patient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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