Studies of cost of medical care often concentrate on such factors as capital and personel expenditures but ignore costs of such items as laboratory studies which are a major factor in direct cost to the patient. This study compares the use of laboratory studies and related costs in a comprehensive pediatric care program with those of an emergency clinic providing fragmented care to control groups. Laboratory studies are less often done and thus cost less in the comprehensive program. These differences can be attributed to greater knowledge of the patients in the comprehensive program and the different modes of teaching in the two environments. These and other data from this study point to the conclusion that alternatives to the current trend toward primary medical care being delivered in hospital emergency rooms should be sought.

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