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Clin Chem. 2011 Aug;57(8):1108-17. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2011.164012. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Roadmap for harmonization of clinical laboratory measurement procedures.

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Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.


Results between different clinical laboratory measurement procedures (CLMP) should be equivalent, within clinically meaningful limits, to enable optimal use of clinical guidelines for disease diagnosis and patient management. When laboratory test results are neither standardized nor harmonized, a different numeric result may be obtained for the same clinical sample. Unfortunately, some guidelines are based on test results from a specific laboratory measurement procedure without consideration of the possibility or likelihood of differences between various procedures. When this happens, aggregation of data from different clinical research investigations and development of appropriate clinical practice guidelines will be flawed. A lack of recognition that results are neither standardized nor harmonized may lead to erroneous clinical, financial, regulatory, or technical decisions. Standardization of CLMPs has been accomplished for several measurands for which primary (pure substance) reference materials exist and/or reference measurement procedures (RMPs) have been developed. However, the harmonization of clinical laboratory procedures for measurands that do not have RMPs has been problematic owing to inadequate definition of the measurand, inadequate analytical specificity for the measurand, inadequate attention to the commutability of reference materials, and lack of a systematic approach for harmonization. To address these problems, an infrastructure must be developed to enable a systematic approach for identification and prioritization of measurands to be harmonized on the basis of clinical importance and technical feasibility, and for management of the technical implementation of a harmonization process for a specific measurand.

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