Diagnostic testing, whether simple or sophisticated, occurs in many different environments. Certain tests can be done in the field, so to speak, where the service is brought to the patient’s environment (eg, home, shopping mall, pharmacy, church, mobile unit). Other more sophisticated tests need to be done in a physician’s office, clinic, or hospital. If equipment is extremely complex, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or in ultrasound studies, procedures are commonly performed in freestanding diagnostic centers. The most complex tests, such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), cardiac catheterization, or bronchoscopy, usually require hospital services.
With changing methods of health care delivery in today’s society, the nurse’s unique role in diagnostic evaluation must, of necessity, reflect new and innovative methods of meeting needs, providing quality care, and containing costs. Responsibilities for diagnostic care in various settings and the home, workplace, health care facility, and community at large are summarized in the following table.