United States Health Information Knowledgebase


Logical Observation Identifier Names and Codes (LOINC)

Name:Logical Observation Identifier Names and Codes (LOINC)
Type:Data Collection
Definition:The LOINC database provides a set of universal names and ID codes for identifying laboratory and clinical test results. The purpose is to facilitate the exchange and pooling of results, such as blood hemoglobin, serum potassium, or vital signs, for clinical care, outcomes management, and research. Currently, many laboratories are using ASTM 1238 or its sister standard, HL7, to send laboratory results electronically from producer laboratories to clinical care systems in hospitals. Most laboratories identify tests in these messages by means of their internal (and idiosyncratic) code values. Receiving medical informatics systems cannot fully "understand" the results they receive unless they either adopt the producer¬s laboratory codes (which is impossible if they receive results from multiple source laboratories, e.g.; the hospital lab, the local commercial lab, and a nursing home lab), or invest in the work to map each laboratory¬s code system to their internal code system.<BR><BR>If medical information producers who wish to communicate with each other used the LOINC codes to identify their results in data transmissions, this problem would disappear. The receiving system with LOINC codes in its master vocabulary file would be able to understand and properly file HL7 results messages that identified clinical observations via LOINC codes. Similarly, government agencies would be able, within limits, to pool results for tests from many sites if they were reported electronically using the LOINC codes. The LOINC codes (and names) for test observations should be of interest to hospitals, clinical laboratories, doctors¬ offices, state health departments, governmental health care providers, third-party payers, and organizations responsible for quality assurance and utilization review. <BR><BR>The LOINC codes are not intended to transmit all possible information about a test or observation. They are only intended to identify the test result or clinical observation. Other fields in the message can transmit the identity of the source laboratory and very detailed information about the sample. (For instance, the result code may identify a blood culture, but the message source code can be more specific and identify the sample as pump blood.) The level of detail in the LOINC definitions was intended to distinguish tests that are usually distinguished as separate test results within the master file of existing laboratory systems. Indeed, we initially used the master files from seven U.S. laboratories to shape this effort, and direct requests from commercial labs and hospitals continue to shape the content of the LOINC effort.
Registration Authority:Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Administrative Attributes
Responsible Organization:Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Submitting Organization:Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Steward Organization:Regenstrief Institute, Inc
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