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In tests for pironoma, a serious disease, a false positive [#permalink]

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25 Mar 2007, 11:16

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In tests for pironoma, a serious disease, a false positive result indicates that people have pironoma when, in fact, they do not; a false negative result indicates that people do not have pironoma when, in fact, they do. To detect pironoma most accurately, physicians should use the laboratory test that has the lowest proportion of false positive results.
Which of the following, if true, gives the most support to the recommendation above?
(A) The accepted treatment for pironoma does not have damaging side effects.
(B) The laboratory test that has the lowest proportion of false positive results causes the same minor side effects as do the other laboratory tests used to detect pironoma.
(C) In treating pironoma patients, it is essential to begin treatment as early as possible, since even a week of delay can result in loss of life.
(D) The proportion of inconclusive test results is equal for all laboratory tests used to detect pironoma.
(E) All laboratory tests to detect pironoma have the same proportion of false negative results.

The paragraph basically says that there are 2 types of false results for a pironoma test (either positive or negative)...

so, it would be wrong to say that the piranoma test with the lowest proportion of false POSITIVES would result in the most accurate test, simply because the test with the lowest proportion of false positives may also have the HIGHEST proportion of false NEGATIVES...

so for the statement to be accurate, the proportion of false negatives must be the same for every test... therefore making the only variable in the equation the proportion of false positives...

If your read the argument carefully, a false negative is much more serious than a false positive. So ideally, one should go for a test with minimum number of false negative results. Since, the physicians have gone for the test with minimum number of false positive results, it is obvious that they had no control over minimum number of false negatives. Hence the best case scenario is that all tests have equal likelihood of false negative results.
Answer - E.

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