Coding for Laboratory Services

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 1
Words: 405
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

Proprietary and local titles for laboratory tests frequently lack sufficient description to distinguish between tests that are comparable. In order to avoid having to provide a long description for every single test, laboratories must be able to give codes that include sufficient information for translating between laboratories. Providing laboratories with such universal result identities opens up many possibilities for cross-institutional exchange, analysis, and aggregation of data, as well as international and national data mining opportunities and artificial intelligence possibilities.

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A universal system for coding is provided by the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) standard. Methods of timing and analysis are applied for detecting analyte, property, specimen, and result scale in order to create a specific LOINC code (Martin, 2021). Toxicology example can illustrate how codes are used and implemented into the laboratory test. In toxicology, the code for blood arsenic is 5583-0, and the code for urine arsenic is 5586-3 (Martin, 2021). Because the clinical implications of arsenic levels in urine and blood are so dissimilar, the type of specimen is included in the LOINC code definition. Toxicology examples show how LOINC distinguishes based on therapeutically important differences.

Another code example could be provided from the serology while testing for viruses. Code for the West Nile lgG virus, for instance, is 33329-4, and the code for West Nile lgM virus is 31704-0 (Martin, 2021). Antibody titers for West Nile virus are frequently performed to assess immunization status; however, they might be mistaken with the presence of IgM antibody, which is used to detect a recent infection. Serological examples demonstrate some clinically significant differences that are sometimes overlooked in test nomenclature conventions.

When a code is used to represent a rendered service, it is sometimes necessary to include additional information in the form of a code modifier to indicate the amendment of the procedure due to a specific scenario. Codes and modifiers could be used by physicians in order to create preemptive procedure code explanation, billed service classification, and provide information that is required for accuracy improvement (Sireci et al., 2020). When I have performed a test for COVID-19 detection, however, no modifiers were needed, as the test result was presented in the form of ‘negative’ or ‘positive.’ Test codes function well in different contexts and will continue to be the preferred method of referencing specific tests by laboratories for their clients since codes open up a lot of possibilities for leveraging laboratory data.


Martin, M. K. (2021). No lab is an island: universal coding of laboratory test names. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 33(3), 415-418. Web.

Sireci, A. N., Patel, J. L., Joseph, L., Hiemenz, M. C., Rosca, O. C., Caughron, S. K., Thibault-Sennett, S., Burke, T. & Aisner, D. L. (2020). Molecular pathology economics 101: an overview of molecular diagnostics coding, coverage, and reimbursement: a report of the Association for Molecular Pathology. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 22(8), 975-993. Web.