The use and limitations of variable costs in predicting the financial effects of changing workloads in clinical chemistry are illustrated and discussed. The study identified the 10 tests with the highest annual variable expenditure in clinical chemistry laboratories of a district general hos‐pital and a teaching hospital. Six tests were common to both laboratories. The differences were due to the demands of specialised depart‐ments on the laboratory in the teaching hospital. In the laboratories studied, a very small group of commonly requested inexpensive tests (blood gases, plasma glucose, creatinine, urea, sodium and potassium) accounted for a large proportion (36–54 per cent) of the variable expenditure. Establishing glucose, the test with the highest variable expenditure, as a discretionary test in the district general hospital decreased the total number of tests by 6.9 per cent but revenue expenditure fell by only 1 per cent. However, efforts to save money by reducing workload would be most productive if directed at tests with a high variable expenditure.
Gama, R., Nightingale, P.G. and Broughton, P.M.G. (1990), "Use of Variable Costs in Laboratory Management", Journal of Management in Medicine, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 226-229. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb060555
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