Inappropriateness in laboratory medicine: An elephant in the room?

Marcello Ciaccio, Chiara Bovo, Giuseppe Lippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Appropriateness of diagnostic testing can be conventionally described as prescription of the right test, using the right method, at the right time, to the right patient, with the right costs and for producing the right outcome. There is ongoing debate about the real burden of inappropriateness in laboratory diagnostics. The media coverage of this issue has also recently led to either over- or under-emphasizing the clinical, organizational and economic consequences. This is quite problematic, inasmuch as some reliable data are available in the current scientific literature, showing that inappropriateness of laboratory testing can be as high as 70%. This is especially evident for, though not limited to, cancer biomarkers testing, in which the practice of avoidable tests ordering is dramatically magnified. The reasons beyond inappropriateness are many and multifaceted, entailing wrong habits, resistance to changes, poor culture, insufficient education and healthcare inefficiencies. There are many unfavorable consequences attributable to avoidable testing, including unjustified incremental costs, derangement of laboratory efficiency and potential patient safety issues. The tentative solutions to this important problem necessitate that policymakers, local hospital administrators, laboratory professionals, clinicians, patients' associations and diagnostic companies join the efforts and embark in the same landmark effort for disseminating a better culture of appropriateness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-82
Number of pages1
JournalAnnals of Translational Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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