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Interpreting information on diagnostic accuracy is an area that health professionals struggle with. In this paper, we use the example of Mr Samways, a 45-year-old man with joint symptoms, to illustrate how to apply the results of a diagnostic accuracy study in clinical practice. We consider the various measures used to quantify diagnostic accuracy and discuss their clinical utility. We provide an overview of potential biases to consider when evaluating a diagnostic accuracy study and consider how to determine whether the results can be applied to a particular patient.