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Regional and supraregional biochemistry services in Scotland: a survey of hospital laboratory users.
  1. M J Murphy,
  2. F J Dryburgh,
  3. J Shepherd
  1. Institute of Biochemistry, Glasgow Royal Infirmary.


    AIM--To ascertain the views of Scottish hospital laboratory users on aspects of regional and supraregional biochemical services offered by the Institute of Biochemistry at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. METHODS--A questionnaire was circulated asking questions or inviting opinions under various headings, including current patterns of usage of the services provided, availability of information on specimen collection requirements and reference ranges, current arrangements for transport of specimens, turnaround times for delivery of reports, layout and content of request and report forms, quantity and quality of interpretive advice, potential changes in laboratory services, and overall impression of the services provided. Opportunities were provided for free text comment. The questionnaire was circulated in 1992 to heads of department in 23 Scottish hospital biochemistry laboratories. RESULTS--Twenty one replies were received. Services used widely included trace metals/vitamins (n = 20) and specialised endocrine tests (n = 19). Other services also used included specialised lipid tests (n = 13), toxicology (n = 12), thyroid function tests (n = nine), and tumour markers (n = eight). Fifteen laboratories used one or more of the services at least weekly. Most (n = 20) welcomed the idea of a handbook providing information on specimen collection and reference ranges. Nine identified loss of specimens as a problem. Other perceived problems included the absence of reference ranges from report forms, quantity and quality of interpretive advice, and turnaround times of some tests. Overall impressions of the service(s) offered were very good (n = 12); adequate (n = seven); poor (n = one). CONCLUSIONS--Useful information was obtained about patterns of use and transport arrangements. Areas identified as requiring follow up included provision of information, alternative ways of communicating reports, and improvement in quantity and quality of interpretive advice.

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