SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1993

Standardization of Names for Clinical Laboratory Tests and Resulting Analytes


ASTM Committee E31.12 on Computer-Based Patient Records has developed an approach to standardized clinical laboratory test and analyte names. The need exists to be able to report the values for an increasing number of analytes resulting from all of the new laboratory methods and to store them in automated patient record systems. The European Clinical Laboratory Data Exchange Standard (EUCLIDES) project has also embarked on an approach for data communications. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry Laboratory Information Systems Division and the College of American Pathologists, who both support representatives to ASTM E31, are to provide expert reviews. A catalog of names, contained in a database maintained by ASTM E31.12 and that of EUCLIDES will be harmonized using joint rules of nomenclature.

The components of a test name include the analyte or procedure name, the specimen source, and the level of precision as mandatory components and may end with an optional method component. This order produces either a condensed formal form or an expanded form of the test name. The ASTM database contains both forms. Each term's entry contains fields for common classification and coding systems and a field for multiple “semantic address” codes, as defined in ASTM E 1284. The data representation convention for an ASTM unique identifier code attribute has not yet achieved consensus.

Another attribute that complements the semantic address is a multiple field for analyte class. This attribute recognizes the fact that a given test and analyte may appear in multiple groupings when selecting a test of interest. This feature allows it to appear on all lists that may provide important cues during test selection. Though the ASTM unique identifier for each term uses a two-letter abbreviation for this class, the primary class of the method is selected for this code. Names beginning with “*” discriminate panels of tests from single test procedures. A multiple associated field lists the constituent tests that compose the panel, including full explosion of included panels that are part of other panels. Each defined name has a list of defined analytes resulting from this test procedure. How standardized analyte names get automatically added to the preferred term list is an issue for open-ended procedures, such as chromatography or electrophoresis. The role that test names play in the context of identifying reference ranges for analytes is still being described, as is the manner for handling matrix effects with the test name.

Author Information

Forrey, AW
School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
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Developed by Committee: E02
Pages: 293–296
DOI: 10.1520/STP18015S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5227-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1493-7