A survey of one year's lithium results for a hearth district of 170 000 disclosed unacceptable delays in checking abnormally high values. Only 17% of moderately elevated levels were rechecked within a week. The problem was most marked with patients monitored in general practice, but one particularly high result in a patient monitored in psychiatric out-patients remained unchecked for over three weeks as a result of poor communication between general practitioner and psychiatrist. A trial of an on-the-spot monitoring service using new technology has simplified procedures and reduced to zero the number of results taking over a week to check.
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