Advances in medical laboratory technology have driven major changes in the practice of laboratory medicine over the past two decades by the development of automated, cross-disciplinary single platform analysers. This has led to the blurring of boundaries between traditional disciplines and the emergence of core automated or blood science laboratories. This paper was commissioned by the Union of European Medical Specialists to examine the changing role of laboratory-based physicians in the light of these advances by focusing on the added value of expert interpretation of test results and resultant improvements in clinical outcomes. The paper also considers the broad range of responsibilities of laboratory-based physicians and the difficulties in precisely measuring how this translates into improved clinical outcomes. Given its provenance, the paper concentrates predominantly on the role of laboratory-based physicians while acknowledging the essential and vital role of scientists in running diagnostic laboratory services.
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