This paper urges the benefits of applying more widely a method for pathology laboratory costing originally devised for a clinical chemistry department, and illustrates these with examples drawn from costing studies in three clinical laboratories. Heads of pathology departments, laboratory managers, administrators and clinicians require different kinds of costing information, each of which can be obtained by the costing procedure outlined. The method also yields valuable and sometimes surprising insights into the workings of a pathology service. Cost comparisons between different laboratories can now become more informative. Flaws in the concept of the "cost per test" are discussed and the value of this concept is questioned; for most purposes the cost per request has greater application.
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