In 1990, the College, in conjunction with the then Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, developed and published the Manual of Use and Interpretation of Pathology Tests, now known more familiarly as 'the Manual'.

In 1997 a much enlarged second edition was published and as with the previous edition, this appeared in printed format only.

The third edition of the Manual was produced in 2001 in response to continued demand for information on pathology testing. In order to provide more ready access to target groups, this edition was produced in electronic format which also permitted low level web access.

As part of the ongoing evaluation of the Manual, an independent survey was commissioned by the Commonwealth in 2001. This survey not only afforded objective evidence as to the value of the Manual to hospital and community practitioners, but also provided guidance as to how the format and content of the publication could be improved.

With the support of funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care, a fourth edition of the Manual was released in 2004 as an on-line publication. The electronic format of the fourth edition facilitated review and revision of content, and regular updating of individual test entries has been undertaken in response to scientific developments and changes in medical practice.

Since the on-line publication of the fourth edition, the Editorial Committee has met formally to review and update the total content of the publication on three occasions. The most recent review occurred in August 2007 and the major revisions recommended at this meeting have now been incorporated into this fifth edition of the Manual. Routine updating of Manual content on the web continues as previously.

The most recent Manual initiative funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, is the development of the Pathology Decision Support Tool (PDST) section of the Manual website.  Here we have taken the concepts of improved decision making embedded in the rest of the Manual and devised a series of flowcharts for difficult and common clinical situations. It is hoped that this is the first step on a pathway to integrated decision support and electronic requesting to assist further in optimal patient care. We are grateful to our PDST authors for their valuable input.

Ongoing evaluation of Manual usage by pathologists, other health practitioners and the general public has confirmed the value of the publication to the profession and its importance to the College. Website activity was in the order of 20,000 to 25,000 downloads per month during 2007, while detailed enquiries regarding tests continued to be answered by members of the Editorial Board on a regular basis. A recent analysis of website activity indicates that the Manual now has about 5,000 unique visitors, 8,500 visits and 36,000 page views monthly.

Professor Brett Delahunt, Chairman, Manual Editorial Board

Dr. Debra Graves, Chief Executive Officer, The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia

February 2011

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 March 2011 11:47