Heterogeneity of publicly accessible online critical values for therapeutic drugs


INTRODUCTION Critical values are reported to clinicians when laboratory values are life threatening and require immediate attention. To date no definitive critical value limit recommendations have been produced regarding therapeutic drug monitoring. Some laboratories choose to publish critical value lists online. These publicly available values may be accessed and potentially utilized by laboratory staff, patient care providers, and patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS A web-based search of laboratories associated with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education pathology residency programs was initiated to determine which therapeutic drugs had critical values and to examine the degree of variation in published critical values for these institutions. RESULTS Of the 107 institutions with university-based pathology training programs, 36 had published critical values online for review. Thirteen therapeutic drugs were investigated and the number of institutions reporting critical value limits for the drug, as well as the median, range, standard deviation, and the coefficient of variation of critical value concentration limits for each drug were determined. A number of the online critical value limits were deemed to be erroneous, most likely due to incorrectly listed units of measurement. CONCLUSIONS There was a large degree of heterogeneity with regard to the chosen critical value limits for therapeutic drugs. This wide variance in critical values appears to be greater than that observed in interassay proficiency testing. Institutions should reexamine the rationale for their current critical value parameters and ensure that critical value limits and associated units are accurately published online.

DOI: 10.4103/2153-3539.91131

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{McClain2011HeterogeneityOP, title={Heterogeneity of publicly accessible online critical values for therapeutic drugs}, author={Colt M. McClain and Richard A Owings and Joshua A. Bornhorst}, booktitle={Journal of pathology informatics}, year={2011} }