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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Commercial Lab Workers Outscore Doctors' Unlicensed Staff on Tests

June 12, 1997|From Times staff and wire reports

Lab tests done in a physician's office by unlicensed personnel are more than four times as likely to be wrong as those done by licensed technicians in a commercial lab, says a new report by the California Department of Health Services.

The department's Laboratory Field Services division studied proficiency testing conducted last year--in which labs were asked to determine the identity of a prepared sample. Commercial laboratories got the wrong answer on 0.9% of the tests, while unlicensed personnel in physicians' offices were wrong 4.4% of the time. Because labs give special care to proficiency tests, Paul B. Kimsey of field services speculated, the actual incidence of wrong results may be much higher.

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