Objective determination of appropriate reporting intervals

Ann Clin Biochem 2004;41:385-390
© 2004 Association for Clinical Biochemistry


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Original Articles

Tony Badrick,
Susan R Wilson,
Goce Dimeski and
Peter E Hickman

Sullivan, Nicolaides Pathology, Taringa, Queensland 4068, Australia

Background: The reporting interval is the incremental valuechosen in reporting analyte concentration. Reporting intervalsfor different analytes are often inappropriately narrow, whenanalytical imprecision and biological variability are considered.

Methods: We have used statistical techniques to determine intervalsfor individual analytes at which there is 50% or 95% confidencethat two results are analytically different, and compared thesewith the reporting intervals in use for a range of general chemistryanalytes and analytes usually measured by immunoassay.

Results: No analytes met the criteria for 95% confidence thatthe results are analytically different. Even at the 50% confidencelevel, 24 of 46 analytes failed at all concentrations examined.For some analytes, particularly hormones at high concentration,the reporting interval increment should be increased by a factorof at least ten.

Conclusions: The majority of analytes are inappropriately reportedwhen analytical precision alone is considered. The concept ofthe ‘uncertainty of measurement’ has not been adequately addressed.A consensus should be reached and implemented on appropriatereporting intervals for all analytes.

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