Reporting unit size and measurement uncertainty: Current Australian practice in clinical chemistry and haematology.
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MeSH Headings (Medical Subject Headings)
Australasia; Australia; Chemistry, Clinical; Hematology; Humans; Laboratories; Quality Assurance, Health Care; Surveys and Questionnaires; Uncertainty
In this study we aimed to compare the reporting unit size used by Australian laboratories for routine chemistry and haematology tests to the unit size used by learned authorities and in standard laboratory textbooks and to the justified unit size based on measurement uncertainty (MU) estimates from quality assurance program data. MU was determined from Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) - Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB) and RCPA Haematology Quality Assurance Program survey reports. The reporting unit size implicitly suggested in authoritative textbooks, the RCPA Manual, and the General Serum Chemistry program itself was noted. We also used published data on Australian laboratory practices.The best performing laboratories could justify their chemistry unit size for 55% of analytes while comparable figures for the 50% and 90% laboratories were 14% and 8%, respectively. Reporting unit size was justifiable for all laboratories for red cell count, >50% for haemoglobin but only the top 10% for haematocrit. Few, if any, could justify their mean cell volume (MCV) and mean cell haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) reporting unit sizes.The reporting unit size used by many laboratories is not justified by present analytical performance. Using MU estimates to determine the reporting interval for quantitative laboratory results ensures reporting practices match local analytical performance and recognises the inherent error of the measurement process.
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This document has been peer reviewed.