Getting Started with LOINC
Jumpstart your path to LOINCing prowess.
LOINC term basics
LOINC's goal is to create different codes for each test, measurement, or observation that has a clinically different meaning. To do that LOINC codes distinguish a given observation (test ordered/reported, survey question, clinical document) across six dimensions that we call Parts:
- Component (Analyte). The substance or entity being measured or observed.
- Property. The characteristic or attribute of the analyte.
- Time. The interval of time over which an observation was made.
- System (Specimen). The specimen or thing upon which the observation was made.
- Scale. How the observation value is quantified or expressed: quantitative, ordinal, nominal.
- Method. [OPTIONAL] A high-level classification of how the observation was made. Only needed when the technique affects the clinical interpretation of the results.
For example, here is a breakdown of the LOINC name for a manual count of white blood cells in cerebral spinal fluid specimen, which is represented by LOINC code 806-0:
- Component (Analyte). Leukocytes (white blood cells)
- Property. NCnc (Number concentration)
- Time. Pt (Point in time)
- System (Specimen). CSF (Cerebral spinal fluid)
- Scale. Qn (Quantitative)
- Method. Manual Count
LOINC creates several different text labels (names) to represent each concept. We call the six-part formal name, as described above, the Fully-Specified Name (FSN). We also create a more clinician-friendly display called the Long Common Name (LCN) and a Short Name that can be handy when you need a column header in a report. Here are the names for LOINC code 806-0:
Read more about the structure of LOINC names.
Now, let's look at the clinical domains that LOINC covers.