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).