9879-18 Why Physicians Order Laboratory Tests: A Laboratory Perspective
Credits awarded per Session. See individual Sessions for further details.
Credits awarded
Sub type
Certificate awarded

About this item


Course includes study material and exam. 

Description: The laboratory is continually faced with an increasing workload. The reasons for this are complex but one of the reasons is that there may not be a consistent approach to laboratory test ordering by physicians. The laboratory needs to understand the needs of the ordering physician.  This is so that we can provide the laboratory data as meaningful information back to the physician. There is a continual need for laboratory to engage in physician interaction to understand why laboratory tests are ordered so that we can achieve the joint goals. Only the ordering physician knows the specific medical needs of his/her patient. The laboratory goes to great lengths to use qualified staff and up to date instrumentation in order to provide high quality test results to physicians.  In spite of this, technologists are aware that there are inherent, but minimal, deficiencies in many test results. It is important that the physicians that interpret test results understand these and other limitations. It is our responsibility to help them. This will lead to a more consistent and appropriate ordering pattern by physicians. Only through this understanding and regular dialog, will physicians be able to enjoy the full benefit of the laboratory service and ultimately influence excellent patient care. 

Start Date: Upon registration

Completion: Up to 52 weeks

Course/Activity Information

Learning Outcomes:

  • List the many reasons that physicians order laboratory tests.
  • Classify the reasons that physicians order laboratory tests and discuss which are considered reasonable or unreasonable.
  • Describe the measures taken by the laboratory to determine the accuracy and precision of laboratory tests.
  • Discuss how the laboratory evaluates a new test and what the inherent test limitations are.
  • Describe the probable reasons for the increase in laboratory workload in recent years.
  • Discuss why the laboratory is interested in the reasons physicians order laboratory tests.
  • Outline some of the studies published that investigated approaches made to influence physician and selection of test ordering.
  • Discuss in detail how the laboratory can have an influence on physician ordering patterns.
  • Describe the limitations of the 12-test chemistry profile.
  • Discuss the issues surrounding maintaining currency in knowledge and competency.


Author: John Chapman, FCSMLS, FIMLS, CLSp(H)

Version Date: November 2018


PEP hours: 20.5

CPS credits: 1.0

*Note: PEP hours and/or CPS credits will only be awarded upon successful completion of Final Exam.


Learner Feedback

"Covered the topic well and discussed relevant concerns."
"Provided good insight on why physicians order tests. Was good to see doctor and nurse perspectives of the lab."
"Love the course and its relevance to our profession, especially those in smaller areas where inter-professional collaboration is in higher frequency than city hospitals."

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