Using clinical guidelines to assess the potential value of laboratory medicine in clinical decision-making (2021)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Hicks A.J.; Carwardine Z.L.; *Hallworth M.J.; Kilpatrick E.S.

Biochemia Medica; Feb 2021; vol. 31 (no. 1); p. 10703

Introduction: It is often quoted that 70% of clinical decisions are based on laboratory results, but the evidence to substantiate this claim is lacking. Since clinical guidelines aim to document best-practice decision making for specific disease conditions, inclusion of any laboratory test means that the best available evidence is recommending clinicians use it. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s most common cause of mortality, so this study reviewed all CVD guidelines published by five national/international authorities to determine what proportion of them recommended laboratory testing. Material(s) and Method(s): Five leading CVD guidelines were examined, namely the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the Australian Heart Foundation (AHF) and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ). Result(s): A total of 101 guidelines were reviewed. Of the 33 individual ESC guidelines relating to CVD, 24/33 made a direct reference to the use of clinical laboratory tests in either diagnosis or follow-up treatment. The same applied to 15/20 of NICE guidelines, 24/32 from the ACC and 15/16 from the AHF/CSANZ. Renal function and blood count testing were the most recommended (39 and 26 times), with lipid, troponin and natriuretic peptide measurement advocated 25, 19 and 19 times respectively. Conclusion(s): This study has shown that laboratory testing is advocated by between 73% and 94% of individual CVD guideline recommendations from five national/international authorities. This provides an index to assess the potential value of laboratory medicine to healthcare.

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