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Accuracy and Apparent Accuracy in Medical Testing



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Accuracy and Apparent Accuracy in Medical Testing Version 3 141 Background Information Today testing for the presence or absence of a specific disease medical condition or illegal drug is common The results of these tests are never as simple as they appear to be on many TV shows and movies As patients become more and more critical consumers of medical information from their doctors they must be aware of the quantitative and statistical reasoning that lurks behind the reported facts and figures For example if a medical test is reported as 99 9 accurate and you get a positive result what is the chance that you have that medical condition Medical researchers want to develop simpler less expensive tests and screening tools for existing medical conditions However they do not want to sacrifice reliability when doing so When a new test is developed researchers need to compare its reliability with the existing gold standard test In this activity you can assume that the gold standard is perfect in detecting the medical condition under consideration In this activity you will explore the results of medical tests The mathematics includes basic proportional reasoning yet the real world context is complex Before beginning this activity some definitions are needed Definitions false positive FP when a patient receives a positive test result for a disease but the patient does not have the disease false negative FN when a patient receives a negative test result for a disease when the patient actually does have the disease true positive TP when a patient receives a correct positive test result true negative TN when a patient receives a correct negative test result sensitivity the probability that a test produces a positive test result when the patient does have the disease and this result is correct specificity the probability that a test produces a negative test result when the patient does not have the disease and this result is correct Math 101 Student Pages Medical Tests Page 1



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