BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that of all the tests requested of hospital laboratories, 25-40% are thought to be unnecessary. Our hospital laboratory observed that a significant number of requests from the medical admissions unit (MAU) were probably inappropriate. In an attempt to improve requesting behaviour this observation was investigated and an educational intervention employed. METHODS: We performed a survey of requesting behaviour by the MAU and a local protocol was designed as an audit standard. The influence of the educational intervention on requesting behaviour was audited. RESULTS: The generation of local guidelines and an educational intervention to promote them, significantly changed requesting behaviour. The main effect was the reduction in requesting of thyroid function tests, lipid profiles and coagulation screens. CONCLUSIONS: This process highlighted inappropriate requesting behaviour from the MAU which, following a process of investigation and education, resulted in a significant change with an associated cost benefit.
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