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Study shows increasing importance of lab tests
Date: 2013-07-11 00:00:00

Lab tests were the theme of a recent report released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society for Microbiology. The IDSA and ASM identified lab tests as the key to identifying and treating infectious diseases.

The study examined the effect that the appropriate lab test has on patient outcome, and underscored the importance of lab testing in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. It also provided guidelines on the collection of specimens and how to obtain the most accurate results. The report was recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, and it provides guidelines for the use of labs in diagnostics.

"Getting the right diagnosis is contingent upon laboratory results that are accurate and clinically relevant," said Ellen Baron, coauthor of the study. "Physicians, their staff and microbiologists must communicate and work together to ensure the best outcome for patients, and this guide aims to help facilitate this collaboration."

The guide focused on 10 areas of specimen management and was geared toward laboratory scientists. It recommended that, to avoid inaccurate results, poor quality specimens should not be used and that specific diseases should be targeted rather than attempting to make a blanket diagnosis. The researchers also stressed the importance of ensuring that specimens are not contaminated and that swabs may not provide enough material to detect an infection. Lab scientists should not rely on samples that have been taken after the administration of antibiotics, and solid technical policies ought to be put in place in order to guarantee accurate results across the board.

The report noted that it should not take the place of lab scientists' judgment, but can act as a guide to look to when in the decision-making process.

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