Reflex test

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A reflex test is a type of laboratory test ordered when the results of an initial test indicate additional testing is necessary. The reflex test can be ordered by a lab technician in response to analyzed results or ordered automatically by an automated system. Examples of tests that may require a reflex test include the check for the presence of human papillomavirus (a DNA virus) or cryoglobulins (proteins that become insoluble at a certain temperature).[1][2]

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General stated the following about the reflex test:

Reflex testing occurs when initial test results are positive or outside normal parameters and indicate that a second related test is medically appropriate. In order to avoid performing unnecessary reflex tests, labs may want to design their requisition form in such a way which would only allow for the reflex test when necessary.[3]

Many clinical laboratories have opted to generate their own listing of specific tests they'll offer reflex testing for.[1][2] Though less common, users of modern laboratory information systems may optionally use built-in medical necessity checking tools in order to minimize excess reflex testing.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Confirmation and Reflex Testing". Regional Medical Laboratory. Retrieved 09 August 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Reflex Tests". Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved 09 August 2014. 
  3. "Publication of OIG Compliance Program Guidance for Clinical Laboratories" (PDF). Federal Register 63 (163): 45801. 24 August 1998. Retrieved 09 August 2014.