Assessing post-analytical phase harmonization in European laboratories: a survey promoted by the EFLM Working Group on Harmonization

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2024 Apr 3. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2024-0308. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Harmonization of the laboratory total testing process (TTP) is critical to improving patient outcome. In 2016, an EFLM survey on the harmonization of TTP underlined the serious shortcomings pertaining to the post-analytical phase. In 2023, the WG-H conducted a new survey aiming to update information in the 2016 harmonization report in order to ascertain whether countries that had declared they were keen to adopt SI units had continued with this program, the aim being to verify the state-of art in harmonization units in areas of laboratory medicine not included in the previous survey.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to the Presidents and National Representatives of EFLM Full Member Societies and EFLM affiliate Members. The survey questions were grouped into three categories: measurement units, reference intervals, and nomenclature/terminology, and results were evaluated using Survey Monkey software and Excel.

Results: A total of 123 questionnaires from 31 countries were analyzed. A trend (+19.3 %) was observed toward a wider use of SI units for general clinical biochemistry parameters. The results for tests not included in the 2016 survey (i.e., endocrinology diagnostics and coagulation panels), demonstrated that for reports on hormones, responses were satisfactory, 70-90 % of the responders adopting the recommended units, whereas for coagulation test panels, a serious lack of harmonization was found, "seconds", which are inaccurate and not recommended, being widely used units (91 %).

Conclusions: The findings made in the 2023 survey demonstrated a progressive, albeit slow, improvement in harmonization reports. However, further efforts at improvement are mandatory.

Keywords: harmonization; measurement units; reference intervals.