Big Data Analysis Hits Lab Use

A large-scale analysis of 1.6 million results from 46 of medicine's 50 most commonly ordered lab tests finds that, on average, 30 percent of all tests are probably unnecessary. The results suggest that many necessary tests may be going unordered. Investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reviewed medical literature going back to 1997. They began by scouring a host of databases matching terms such as "laboratory," "blood test," "utilization," "overuse" and "underuse." Analyzing 34,000 papers, the authors found both overuse and underuse to be prevalent, urging more careful ordering of labs.

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