Medicine of the Future in America

Evaluating STAT Testing Alternatives by Calculating Annual Laboratory Costs: The Calculating Annual Laboratory Costs Model (CALC) (Part 4)

(c) Equipment Maintenance Costs: Maintenance
costs represent the expense of cleaning, repairing, and keeping each instrument operating throughout its expected life. Generally, daily checks of critical components and periodic maintenance checks are required by regulations. Since these daily checks are usually performed by the operator, the associated costs can be classified as a labor expense. Periodic maintenance is, sometimes, performed by the manufacturer for a fee as part of an extended warranty contract. The fee is usually 8 to 12 percent of the instruments list price, depending on the extent of service desired or required.
In Table 1, maintenance costs include the fees for annual service contracts, which are assumed to be 12 percent of instrument list price (not purchase price), for all instruments including the backup units.
(d) Incremental Labor Costs: Labor costs, which usually make up 60 to 70 percent of direct laboratory operating expenses, can be the most difficult cost component to quantify because of the number of people involved in providing a testing service. Personnel costs include actual salaries as well as the cost of benefits such as vacations, sick leave, holidays, health insurance, retirement, etc. Labor costs for all staff should be considered, including directors, supervisors, technologists, technicians, support staff, phlebotomists, and individuals responsible for transporting samples to and from the laboratory (Table 2). flovent inhaler

Table 2—Labor Costs for Analyzing Clinical Laboratory Tests


Equipment start-up

Preparation of daily quality controls

Performing quality controls (if done separately from sample analysis)

Obtaiing patient demographic information and relevant clinical information

Order submission

Specimen collection

Specimen transport

Specimen receiving and accessioning (logging in and assigning to laboratory work station)

Preparation and/or storage of specimen for analysis


Performing quality controls/standards

Analyzing sample

Error checking of results


Result reporting

Delivery of hard copy printout (with reference ranges)

Entering results in laboratory record keeping system

Entering results in patient record

Other routine instrument maintenance

Shut-down time

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