Chapter 55 : The Future Practice of Laboratory Medicine

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Historically, the provision of clinical laboratory services in the United States can be traced to two distinct traditions: clinical pathology originating in the community hospital and laboratory medicine in the academic medical center. Today, there is an increasing need to contain costs and at the same time provide quality error-free laboratory testing. This chapter explores the future practice of laboratory medicine against the background of a rapidly changing healthcare environment. It familiarizes the reader with the historic development of clinical pathology and laboratory medicine in the United States. The chapter encourages an appreciation for the changes taking place in the healthcare environment that influence the future practice of laboratory medicine. Although history taking and physical examination are still identified as the mainstay of clinical practice, practicing physicians rely more and more on the use of technology, in particular imaging and laboratory testing, to solve clinical problems. The trends are in the direction of increasingly complex and costly laboratory molecular techniques designed to aid in the diagnosis and management of equally complex and costly clinical problems. The reaction to the changes that have occurred in the healthcare environment in recent years is essentially twofold: increased efforts to contain costs and increased public demand for appropriate and error-free medical care. Although total elimination of error is unrealistic, decreases in error comparable to those in many industries are now being viewed as within the reach of a number of medical services, including laboratory medicine.

Citation: Bachner P, Burke M. 2014. The Future Practice of Laboratory Medicine, p 966-974. In Garcia L (ed), Clinical Laboratory Management, Second Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817282.ch55
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