The organization of laboratories into collaborative networks has been ongoing for more than a decade. The concept of laboratory networks arose from the need to ensure that critical laboratory services were available throughout the country (Gilchrist, 2000). The CDC, FDA, USDA, and state governmental laboratories formed many of the original partnerships that grew into the laboratory networks that exist today.
Early networks included the National Laboratory System (NLS) of clinical, public health and federal laboratories (McDade and Hughes, 1998), and the Public Health Laboratory Information System (PHLIS). PHLIS was an early DOS-based system that involved voluntary reporting of selected laboratory tests directly to the CDC by 23 state and local public health laboratories and numerous military laboratories (see Chapter 3). PHLIS was one of the earliest laboratory-based surveillance systems that became an effective tool for the identification of outbreaks of salmonellosis (Bean et al., 1992; Hutwagner et al., 1997).
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