Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Morris, Sherrill

Second Advisor

Isabel, Jeanne

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions


Every person in America seeks medical care at some point, trusting and relying on highly educated healthcare professionals and sophisticated technology to solve their medical problem. The majority of clinicians rely on laboratory testing to provide insight into a patient’s illness. Unfortunately, the appropriate laboratory tests are not always ordered correctly during a patient’s initial visit. A study that examined 15 years of inappropriate test utilization indicates that, on average, 20.6% of lab tests were ordered when they weren’t needed and 44.8% of lab tests that were needed were not ordered. This is considered a medical error that can lead to financial waste, psychological distress, delayed diagnosis, or even death. In fact, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The number of laboratory tests available has more than doubled over the past 20 years, giving clinicians at least 3,500 tests to choose from. Evidence is accumulating that clinicians are struggling more with not only selecting the appropriate laboratory test(s) but also correctly interpreting the results. Healthcare providers are recognizing the value of working as interprofessional teams to ensure that no aspects of a patient’s illness are overlooked. A new, advanced-practice medical laboratory professional, a Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science (DCLS), is now available to provide consultation to clinicians and assist them with the ordering and interpretation of diagnostic laboratory tests. This qualitative research project explored the perceptions that clinicians have about medical laboratory professionals and how perceptions change after collaboration with a DCLS. These findings provide insight about an unexplored area of healthcare research and support the need for future study of the efficacy of including laboratory expertise in patient care.


146 pages




Northern Illinois University

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