AIM--To investigate the waste of laboratory reagents which resulted from the process of ordering biochemistry profiles. METHODS--The frequency of measurement of 15 analytes was recorded during the six months before the introduction of a system of discretionary requesting and analysis of samples (high capacity multichannel discrete analyser), and also during the same six month period one year and two years after its introduction. RESULTS--The frequency of measurement of 10 of the 15 analytes decreased during the six month period one year after the change to discretionary testing. The remaining five analytes were measured up to 22% more frequently. There was an overall decrease in the measurement of biochemical tests by 31,359. This created an annual cost saving of 7124 pounds. In the second year five analytes still continued to be measured less frequently than originally but the remaining 10 analytes were measured more frequently. This resulted in an overall increase in the measurement of biochemical tests by 53,678 compared with the six month period before discretionary analysis. The pattern of requests was similar during both periods of discretionary requesting studied and as a result, a small annual cost saving of 1672 pounds was again made. CONCLUSION--Discretionary requesting and analysis of tests may eliminate the measurement of clinically unnecessary test which had previously resulted from the processes of ordering tests. These cost savings may be rapidly eroded by an increase in the laboratory workload.
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