Original articles

Providing clinicians with information on laboratory test costs leads to reduction in hospital expenditure

S Ellemdin, P Rheeder, P Soma


Objectives. We aimed to ascertain the efficacy of an intervention in which laboratory test costs were provided to clinicians as a pocket-sized brochure, in reducing laboratory test costs over a 4-month period.
Methods. This was a non-randomised intervention study in the Internal Medicine wards at Steve
Biko Academic Hospital, Pretoria, in which the intervention was laboratory test costs provided to clinicians as a pocket-sized brochure. The intervention period was the winter months of May - August 2008 and the pre-intervention period was the same months of the preceding year. In the two 4-month periods (2007 and 2008), the number of days in hospital and the laboratory tests ordered were computed for each patient admitted. For the intervention and control groups, pre- and post-intervention cost and days in hospital were estimated.
Results. The mean cost per patient admitted in the intervention group decreased from R2 864.09 to R2 097.47 – a 27% reduction. The mean cost per day in the intervention group as a whole also decreased, from R442.90 to R284.14 – a 36% reduction.
Conclusion. Displaying the charges for diagnostic tests on the laboratory request form may significantly reduce both the number and cost of tests ordered, and by doing so bring about considerable in-hospital cost savings.

Authors' affiliations

S Ellemdin, University of Pretoria

P Rheeder, University of Pretoria

P Soma, University of Pretoria

Full Text



Laboratory cost, cost expenditure

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(10):746-748.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-04-08
Date published: 2011-09-27

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