LabRS: A Rosetta stone for retrospective standardization of clinical laboratory test results.

Clinical laboratories in the United States do not have an explicit result standard to report the 7 billion laboratory tests results they produce each year. The absence of standardized test results creates inefficiencies and ambiguities for secondary data users. We developed and tested a tool to standardize the results of laboratory tests in a large, multicenter clinical data warehouse. Laboratory records, each of which consisted of a laboratory result and a test identifier, from 27 diverse facilities were captured from 2000 through 2015. Each record underwent a standardization process to convert the original result into a format amenable to secondary data analysis. The standardization process included the correction of typos, normalization of categorical results, separation of inequalities from numbers, and conversion of numbers represented by words (eg, "million") to numerals. Quality control included expert review. We obtained 1.266 × 109 laboratory records and standardized 1.252 × 109 records (98.9%). Of the unique unstandardized records (78.887 × 103), most appeared <5 times (96%, eg, typos), did not have a test identifier (47%), or belonged to an esoteric test with <100 results (2%). Overall, these 3 reasons accounted for nearly all unstandardized results (98%). Current results suggest that the tool is both scalable and generalizable among diverse clinical laboratories. Based on observed trends, the tool will require ongoing maintenance to stay current with new tests and result formats. Future work to develop and implement an explicit standard for test results would reduce the need to retrospectively standardize test results.

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 2018 02;25(2):121-126.

ISSN 1527-974X

Authors: Ronald George Hauser, Douglas B Quine, Alex Ryder

© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Medical Informatics Association. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:

PMID 28505339

PubMed BibTeX