Online course

Medical tests

Quality use of medical tests is a core skill for healthcare professionals as not all tests add value. Develop your skills with this growing range of short practical modules.

  • Cost: free

Medical tests


It is recommended that 0.5 CPD hour for each module be recorded for the purposes of self-directed CPD.



Medical testing forms a significant component of health management. Healthcare professionals are routinely presented with scenarios where clinical diagnosis and therapeutic decisions are made based on medical test results.

These 3 interactive modules present everyday clinical scenarios where analysis of medical test results might be encountered. The modules equip you with the knowledge and skills to determine the appropriate test and to effectively interpret the results.

Understanding reference ranges and identifying significant change
In this module you will learn practical ways in which you can assess the clinical significance of abnormal test results and of changes in test results over time. You will meet Jill and Jack whose cases illustrate the scenarios where such problems can arise.
Duration: 20 minutes.

Interpretation of medical tests
Before any medical test is ordered, it is important to consider:

  • Is the test actually needed, and will it change patient management?
  • What are the risks?
  • Are there simpler, safer options?
  • What happens if the patient does not have the test?
  • What are the costs?

This module will help you to assess whether a diagnostic medical test is likely to add value to patient care. You will be introduced to – or reminded of – skills that will help you to assess the diagnostic value of medical tests. Not all medical tests will add value. Unnecessary tests often lead to further invasive investigations that can in turn lead to unnecessary risks, patient anxiety and financial waste.
Duration: 30 minutes

This module focuses on screening in general practice, using the common clinical presentation of a routine health check as the mechanism to explore rational testing.

The extension activity explores the faecal occult blood test (FOBT) and its role in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
Duration: 20 minutes