Use of a major medical center clinical laboratory as a reference laboratory for a developing country: Ordering patterns help set laboratory priorities

Jack H. Ladenson, Mitchell G. Scott, Derryck Klarkowski, Melles Seyoum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The test menus for developed and developing countries may differ, depending on many factors, including the expected volume of testing, disease frequency and therapies available, clinical impact of the test, technical skill and equipment needed, cost, the patient population served, and whether alternative testing sites are available, and some of them may not be exactly known. We assessed test priorities in a developing country by making a broad range of tests available and then assessing which tests were actually used by the physicians in the country for the care of their patients. Methods: The Barnes-Jewish Hospital laboratory and Washington University Medical Center provided patients in the developing country of Eritrea access to the same tests as patients in St. Louis for all analytes that are stable at 4°C, the lowest temperature that could be used for shipping. Results: The use of the St. Louis laboratories increased steadily from 1998 to 2001. More than one-half of the physicians in Eritrea used the reference laboratories, with requests for thyroid function and female fertility representing 48-71% of the test requests over the 4 years evaluated. The high degree of utilization for these test batteries was not predicted. Testing for thyroid function, female fertility, and lipid panels are now performed, or soon will be performed, in Eritrea based on the experience of the reference laboratory system. The reference laboratory system is continuing so that the test priorities of the country can be evaluated on an ongoing basis and specialized tests can be made available at a low cost. Conclusion: The experiences of a reference laboratory for a developing country can help to identify unanticipated priorities for medical testing within the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-166
Number of pages5
JournalClinical chemistry
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

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