Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some FAQ for Australian Pathology Units and Terminology Standards, please click on a question below and you will be taken to the response.

There is an increasing tendency towards the aggregation of laboratory data in the Australian health sector. The usefulness of this data however is limited due the wide variability in test reporting practice for pathology tests in Australia. This variability can be seen in test names, units, reporting intervals (decimal places), reference intervals and types of clinical comments.

This variability has the potential to create confusion and misunderstanding as pathology results are viewed by a wider range of people, including requesting doctors, patients, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and other allied health workers. Additionally pathology data is becoming more likely to be sent to databases such as practice software, national or regional repositories and personal health records. In these settings data from several laboratories may be combined into a single record and removed from, or at least separated from, the original supporting information (name, units, reference intervals etc).

SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) is a systematically organised computer processable collection of medical terms providing codes, terms, synonyms and definitions covering diseases, findings, procedures, microorganisms, substances, etc. It is owned and maintained by the IHTSDO. SNOMED CT (Clinical Terminology) is the current form and the Australian variant SNOMED CT-AU is available from NEHTA-NCTIS website.

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) is a database of terms and standards for identifying medical laboratory observations. It was developed and is maintained by the Regenstrief Institute. For more information visit the LOINC website.

The Unified Code for Units of Measure is a code system intended to include all units of measures with the purpose of facilitating unambiguous electronic communication of quantities together with their units. The focus is on electronic communication, as opposed to communication between humans. For more information visit the Unified Code for Units of Measure website.

A set of standards from Health Level Seven (HL7) for electronic messaging to support clinical practice and the management, delivery and evaluation of health services. The most commonly used set of standards for this purpose in the world, HL7 v2.x messages use a human-readable (ASCII), non-XML encoding syntax based on segments (lines) and one-character delimiters. For more information visit the Health Level Seven (HL7) Website.

AS4700.2 is the Australian Standard for the Implementation of HL7 for messaging pathology and medical imaging (diagnostics). It was developed by, and is maintained by, Standards Australia’s IT-14-6-5 committee. The standard is available at the Standards Australia website.

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