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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Doctors “unable to interpret tests”

12 February, 2008  

Some 18% of junior doctors would order a test that they would not be able to fully interpret, a survey has found.

The Association for Clinical Biochemistry said many medical schools are eliminating the study of pathology and laboratory medicine from the curriculum.

And while junior doctors order the majority of hospital pathology tests, the reduction in teaching of the subjects means there is a lack of basic science knowledge among them, a study published in the Annals of Clinical Biochemistry said.

The survey, conducted by Trevor Gray and Victoria Khromova at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, asked doctors in foundation years one and two how they felt about asking for and interpreting the clinical biochemistry tests they were expected to order on a daily basis.

More than 70% requested specific teaching in the area of clinical biochemistry.

Dr Danielle Freedman, of the Association for Clinical Biochemistry, asked how juniors would become competent in requesting and interpreting tests without the standardisation of the medical curriculum for teaching basic sciences.

Dr Freedman said that she and many of her colleagues knew of patients who were discharged from hospital only to return after suffering a major heart attack because of a poorly-performed key test.

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The Association for Clinical Biochemistry