Minimising uncertainty in laboratory medicine

The issue of measurement uncertainty and its assessment has been a continuing theme across the past six issues of Pathology in Practice, and coverage of this topic concluded in the June issue. The series of articles has proved to be of considerable value to all those facing assessment by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) against the standards that comprise ISO 15189:2012 Medical laboratories – Requirements for quality and competence. However, uncertainty in its various other forms frequently emerges in this publication. The June cover topic is pre-eclampsia testing, and the latest National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance that aims to limit the uncertainty around the possible development of this form of gestational hypertension (pictured) in late pregnancy.

Uncertainty also surrounds plans for the increased networking of pathology laboratories. One such group of laboratories, North West London Pathology, is working with a third-party supplier to facilitate the analysis, comparison and sharing of data across numerous departments in order to maximise the benefits to patients.


Molecular pathology is another area in which uncertainty resides. Clearly, molecular diagnostics and genomic medicine will play a huge part in the application of so-called personalised therapy. Much information can be gained from the many surgical specimens that arrive in histopathology departments each day, but it is important to optimise and standardise the handling and treatment they receive in order to achieve high-quality sequencing, when it is required, while at the same time retaining adequate morphology to facilitate standard histopathological diagnosis.


What these and other features in Pathology in Practice illustrate is the innovative ways in which the effect of uncertainty is being minimised in laboratory medicine.


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