The importance of determining reference intervals for laboratory medicine

Natasha Slhessarenko; Adagmar Andriolo
J. Bras. Patol. Med. Lab. 2016;52(2):68-69
DOI: 10.5935/1676-2444.20160019

Exactly 20 years ago, Forsman has shown that at least 70% of clinical decisions made within hospital setting were very dependent on the results of laboratory tests(1). Nowadays, with the remarkable technological evolution, probably this contributory percentage is even higher.

The performance of a laboratory test may have different purposes such as the diagnosis of a particular disease, monitoring a patient undergoing a therapeutic regimen, the staging of a disease already diagnosed or risk prediction for a particular, among other reasons. With the purpose that the result can be correctly interpreted and, therefore be useful in the medical practice, it needs to fulfill some requirements, such as having been obtained by reliable and robust methodology, have positive and negative predictive values relevant, and high levels of sensitivity and specificity(2, 3). Additionally, it is essential that their limits of significance and limitations are well known, which means, it is crucial to have their reference intervals well determined(4). Read More…