Policies

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Editorial Policies

AACC's aim, and that of our collaborating partners, is to create a comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date web site to inform the public about clinical laboratory testing. The content on this site is developed and updated in accordance with established editorial policies.

1. Science-based Content
Content development is based on current scientific literature and the expertise and practical experience of an Editorial Review Board (ERB) comprised of laboratory professionals from the partner societies as well as Lab Tests Online staff and, as needed, experts in specific areas of laboratory medicine.

2. Patient-Centered
We aim to provide information that is understandable to the general public. We also strive for a balanced approach; where there are differing views and little or no consensus about testing, we present each side of the discussion so that Lab Tests Online users can be better informed when making decisions about their care.

3. Limit Brand References
We avoid the use of company or brand names in written content, except in rare instances where reference to a particular kind of test is so closely associated with a brand that use of the brand name is unavoidable. We limit links to commercial web sites. Editorial decisions are made by the ERB and Lab Tests Online staff and are independent of funding considerations.

4. Peer-Reviewed
All new and modified content must be reviewed and approved by members of the ERB. This applies to news items, test and condition articles, feature and screening articles, and Glossary terms. The ERB may refer some content for review by non-ERB laboratorians who have a particular expertise, but the ERB has final approval of the content.

5. Content Review Cycle
We strive to review all core content on the site (test, condition, and screening articles) at least once every three years to ensure that it is current with the latest research, technology, policies and practice. From time to time, developments in the science or policy and practice related to a specific topic may require the updating of an article in advance of its three-year review date (e.g., changes in screening guidelines). Each article displays a date that the article was last reviewed; a date that the page or article was last modified is also indicated. A modification may be a minor or editorial change that is implemented ad hoc whereas a review means that the complete article was reviewed and updated as needed.

Because laboratory science continues to evolve, in some cases quite rapidly, we require that the most current sources possible are used when preparing new articles or updating existing articles. Experts on specific topics may be consulted when the current literature is inconclusive. We strive to use peer-reviewed sources and non-commercial resources, including but not limited to journal articles, medical texts, and online health information sites, and these are documented.

6. New Development
At the beginning of each year, the ERB meets to prioritize the test and condition articles that will be developed and added to the site that year. Topics for feature articles may also be considered at this time, but this is not the focus of the prioritization process. A typical budget allows for the development of approximately twenty new articles per year, most of which are test articles. Criteria that are used to help assign priorities to topics include board member recommendations, user and other stakeholder requests, frequency of user searches, and input from editors of the global network of Lab Tests Online web sites. Other considerations include whether the test has widespread acceptance in practice, relation of the test to other test and condition articles on the site, and whether the test is included as a recommended test in the guidelines of established authorities. Condition articles are developed with higher priority assigned for those that have laboratory tests associated with them, such as for screening, diagnosis, and/or management.

7. News Story Policies
Topics for news stories are evaluated based on specific criteria that include whether the topic is relevant to laboratory testing and the related subjects covered on the Lab Tests Online site, whether there is a public health aspect to the story, and whether the topic is receiving coverage in the popular media. Other criteria that might be considered, particularly when the story relates to a new test or advance in technology, is how soon the new test or advance will affect – or how far away it is from affecting –patient care. Like other content on Lab Tests Online, news stories strive to be non-commercial and to present a balanced coverage of the issues.

News items and links to them from pages on the site are available for three years from the posting date. After that time, they are removed.

8. Links to External Sites
All links listed in Lab Tests Online articles to sites “Elsewhere on the Web” are included because the pages to which they link are contextually-relevant and considered to be from well-regarded resources. Links are periodically checked to determine if they still function and go to the relevant content.

Under no circumstances will Lab Tests Online place a link to a web site in exchange for a link from that web site to Lab Tests Online. Anyone may suggest a link to us, but it will only be added to the site if it is determined to be relevant to Lab Tests Online users in the context of a given topic and considered to be a credible source. No links are listed on a Sources page if they were not used as sources in the development or review of a given article.

9. User Feedback
We take user feedback seriously. If you tell us that some part of the information on Lab Tests Online is wrong or if something is not sufficiently clear, we will review the section of content in question and take steps to modify it if the ERB agrees that the information was incorrect or unclear. Likewise, if you alert us that a link is not working, we will promptly fix it – and we appreciate you letting us know.

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