In modern medicine the undeniable value and indispensability of scientific investigations are now universally recognized both for diagnostic purposes and monitoring of disease and in basic epidemiology. The direct treatment of patients is an undeniable task of doctors in medicine. Progress in laboratory science is largely the result of contributions by scientists with an adequate education and specialisation in the field, i.e. by clinical chemists. Clinical laboratory science has developed on a broad front throughout the European Community, resulting in significant differences in what constitutes a national clinical chemistry service in each state. Clinical chemistry is the medical discipline devoted to obtain, explore and employ chemical knowledge and chemical methods of investigation, in order to procure knowledge about normal and abnormal chemical processes in man. These processes are studied on a general level, in order to get insight into human health and disease, and on a patient-specific level for diagnostic or monitoring purposes. The delimitation of clinical chemistry varies from country to country, since there is no sharp boundary to haematology, immunology, molecular biology and microbiology. One of the main tasks of the clinical chemist is direction and supervision of a laboratory department in a hospital or health service (public or private), where his role involves bridging the gap between rapidly developing laboratory science and technology and the growing knowledge on characteristics of disease. He must possess fundamental biochemical knowledge and have the ability to use this knowledge most appropriately as applied to clinical requirements, i.e. diagnosis of disease and planning and monitoring of therapy. Apart from providing a competent laboratory service, the clinical chemist must be able to function as a consultant to his clinical colleagues and liaise with them in the interpretation of laboratory results. His advice and professional consultation have at least three aspects, i.e. choosing the most appropriate laboratory investigation in a certain case, ensuring that the analyses are performed in the best possible way and correctly reported and, finally, providing information and (most important) interpretation on the significance and consequences of the laboratory data obtained. As the results of laboratory investigations and the consultation of the clinical chemist have a direct and important influence on the treatment of the patient, it is to the benefit of the public that the profession of the clinical chemist is duly regulated.
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