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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

Editor-in-Chief: Plebani, Mario

Ed. by Gillery, Philippe / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Payne, Deborah A. / Schlattmann, Peter / Tate, Jillian R.

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Quality of interpretative commenting on common clinical chemistry results in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa

Samuel D. Vasikaran1, 2 / Leslie C. Lai3 / Sunil Sethi4 / Joseph B. Lopez5 / Kenneth A. Sikaris6

1Department of Core Clinical Pathology and Biochemistry, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA, Australia

2School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA, Australia

3Gleneagles Intan Medical Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4Department of Laboratory Medicine, National University Health System, Singapore

5Department of Biomedical Sciences, MAHSA University College, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

6Melbourne Pathology, Collingwood, Australia

Corresponding author: Dr. Samuel D. Vasikaran, Department of Core Clinical Pathology and Biochemistry, Royal Perth Hospital, Box X2213 GPO, Perth, WA 6847, Australia Phone: +61 8 9224 2453, Fax: +61 8 9224 1789,

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Volume 47, Issue 8, Pages 963–970, ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2009.225, July 2009

Publication History

Published Online:


Background: Interpretative commenting is an important activity of the clinical diagnostic laboratory. We describe a study of interpretative commenting abilities among senior laboratory professionals in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa.

Methods: Five sets of laboratory results reflecting common and important problems encountered in clinical chemistry were distributed at 4-weekly intervals to 31 registered participants from countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa. Participants were asked to attach an interpretative comment to the results assuming that the requesting doctor had asked for an interpretation of the result.

Results: Twelve pathologists and 19 scientists from seven countries registered to participate and the overall reply rate was ∼50% for the five cases. The quality of the comments returned by participants was diverse and some reflected incorrect or misleading interpretation and advice.

Conclusions: While interpretative commenting is an important laboratory activity, the results of this study suggest that there is room for improvement in the quality of interpretative comments offered by senior laboratory professionals, even for commonly reported results relating to most prevalent and important public health conditions. Interpretative commenting should be formally taught during training of pathologists and scientists, and continuing professional development in this area is required for the provision of a quality interpretative service.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2009;47:963–70.

Keywords: continuing professional development; interpretative commenting; narrative interpretations; post-analytic; quality assessment

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