Laboratory Test Names Matter: A Survey on What Works and What Doesn't Work for Orders and Results

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2024 Feb 1;148(2):155-167. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2021-0314-OA.


Context.—: Health care providers were surveyed to determine their ability to correctly decipher laboratory test names and their preferences for laboratory test names and result displays.

Objective.—: To confirm principles for laboratory test nomenclature and display and to compare and contrast the abilities and preferences of different provider groups for laboratory test names.

Design.—: Health care providers across different specialties and perspectives completed a survey of 38 questions, which included participant demographics, real-life examples of poorly named laboratory orders that they were asked to decipher, an assessment of vitamin D test name knowledge, their preferences for ideal names for tests, and their preferred display for test results. Participants were grouped and compared by profession, level of training, and the presence or absence of specialization in informatics and/or laboratory medicine.

Results.—: Participants struggled with poorly named tests, especially with less commonly ordered tests. Participants' knowledge of vitamin D analyte names was poor and consistent with prior published studies. The most commonly selected ideal names correlated positively with the percentage of the authors' previously developed naming rules (R = 0.54, P < .001). There was strong consensus across groups for the best result display.

Conclusions.—: Poorly named laboratory tests are a significant source of provider confusion, and tests that are named according to the authors' naming rules as outlined in this article have the potential to improve test ordering and correct interpretation of results. Consensus among provider groups indicates that a single yet clear naming strategy for laboratory tests is achievable.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Laboratories
  • Names*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D


  • Vitamin D