Strong demand for better quality standards in lab testing

A variety of recent research and studies point to a need for better information and greater innovation in lab services, focused on improving quality and creating more consistent standards. Following are several independent studies and reports worth reviewing about this important trend:

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: In a 2014 survey of U.S. physicians, 73 percent said the frequency of unnecessary tests and procedures is a serious problem, and 85 percent said having specific, evidence-based recommendations they can use with patients would be an effective solution.
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  • Journal of the American Medical Assn.: A March 2015 JAMA study found that pathologists disagree 25 percent of the time in their interpretation of breast biopsies to diagnose breast cancer, underscoring the value of a second opinion for more complex lab results.
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  • Food & Drug Administration: In a Nov. 16, 2015 report, the agency makes a case for trying to toughen its supervision of labs after largely leaving the business alone for decades and focusing most of its oversight on traditional testing methods.
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  • Wall Street Journal, “Is lab testing the wild west of medicine?” Not all labs meet the same quality standards, and these standards are particularly important for complex pathology tests which are used for life and death diagnoses.
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  • The American Association for Clinical Chemistry: A 2015 White Paper on the need to harmonize medical tests concluded that when laboratory tests are not consistent, the entire continuum of patient care can be affected, which can mislead physicians in following evidence based guidelines.
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