Editorials

Near patient testing in primary care

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7026.263 (Published 03 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:263
  1. Richard Hobbs
  1. Professor of general practice Department of General Practice, The Medical School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT

    Offers better patient management but needs proper evaluation and quality control

    Near patient or point of care testing has been documented at least since Thomas Willis (1621-1675) wrote of tasting urine to test for glycosuria. Today, every doctor uses dry reagent laboratory sticks for simple urine analysis or blood sugar estimation, both in clinics or offices and in patients' homes. In the United States near patient testing now comprises 20% of all testing,1 and the past decade has seen increasing interest in the use of dedicated single test devices or desk top chemistry analysers among doctors in Europe, particularly in Britain,2 3 the Netherlands,4 and Scandinavia.5 In all countries it is in primary care that the true potential for near patient testing will be realised.

    Near patient testing could improve the accuracy of clinical decision making and the reliability of monitoring chronic diseases, assisted if necessary by expert decision support.6 Primary care physicians are under multiple pressures to …

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