The requirements for a clinical biochemistry test request form are reviewed. The interaction between the configuration of the main analysers and the number of individual tests, or profiles, that are ordered using different request form formats were monitored for three-month periods over a three-year period while the main analysers were being "reconfigured" or replaced. Although there was a significant increase in orders for individual tests (compared to profile requests) required on outpatients this did not occur with the inpatient ordering pattern. Instead, the numbers of discretionary tests dropped and more miniprofiles--for example, the electrolyte group, were ordered, although the total number of profiles (per patient day) did not increase because the "electrolyte-urea-creatinine" profile numbers markedly decreased during rhe period of the study. This shift in ordering patterns was assumed to be due to the faster turnaround of "priority" (emergency) test requests which could, due to improved instrumentation, be analysed as quickly as individual test requests. Glucose was dropped from the major profile and the numbers of discretionary glucose requests did not increase. It was concluded that, providing this single test can be performed efficiently, there is no need for glucose to be included in test profiles.
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