What Are Laboratory Test Codes Used For?

The laboratory test code set known as the Logical Observation Identifier Names and Codes, or LOINC, is a universal coding system that enables laboratories and agencies to report test results and other clinical observations, according to ARUP Laboratories. Large reference laboratories such as ARUP use the system database, as do federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The LOINC codes are part of the attachment proposal to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, explains ARUP Laboratories. In 1999, the HL7 Standards Development Organization established LOINC as a preferred code set for laboratory test names in communications between public health authorities, laboratories, laboratory testing devices and health care facilities, explains Mayo Medical Laboratories. The federal government has designated the codes as a standard for electronically exchanging clinical health information in the United States. As of 2015, laboratories such as ARUP Laboratories and Mayo Medical Laboratories have been methodically assigning LOINC codes to their assays. The most frequently requested lab orders are available in the Universal Lab Order Codes Value Set from LOINC, according to the Regenstrief Institute.

LOINC codes are distinguished from the American Medical Association Current Procedural Terminology, or CPT codes. CPT coding is the sole responsibility of the billing party. Public and private health care providers and insurance programs use CPT codes to report medical procedures, services, billing and claims, according to the American Medical Association.