A survey of LOINC code selection practices among participants of the College of American Pathologists Coagulation (CGL) and Cardiac Markers (CRT) proficiency testing programs

Members of the Informatics Committee, College of American Pathologists

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Context.-Biomedical terminologies such as Logical Observation Identifiers, Names, and Codes (LOINC) were developed to enable interoperability of health care data between disparate health information systems to improve patient outcomes, public health, and research activities. Objective.-To ascertain the utilization rate and accuracy of LOINC terminology mapping to 10 commonly ordered tests by participants of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Proficiency Testing program. Design.-Questionnaires were sent to 1916 US and Canadian laboratories participating in the 2018 CAP coagulation (CGL) and/or cardiac markers (CRT) surveys requesting information on practice setting, instrument(s) and test method(s), and LOINC code selection and usage in the laboratory and electronic health records. Results.-Ninety of 1916 CGL and/or CRT participants (4.7%) responded to the questionnaire. Of the 275 LOINC codes reported, 54 (19.6%) were incorrect: 2 codes (5934-2 and 12345-1) (0.7%) did not exist in the LOINC database and the highest error rates were observed in the property (27 of 275, 9.8%), system (27 of 275, 9.8%), and component (22 of 275, 8.0%) LOINC axes. Errors in LOINC code selection included selection of the incorrect component (eg, activated clotting time instead of activated partial thromboplastin time); selection of panels that can never be used to obtain an individual analyte (eg, prothrombin time panel instead of international normalized ratio); and selection of an incorrect specimen type. Conclusions.-These findings of real-world LOINC code implementation across a spectrum of laboratory settings should raise concern about the reliability and utility of using LOINC for clinical research or to aggregate data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-596
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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