Laboratory Reporting of Notifiable Conditions to Public Health – A Perfect System?
Many providers assume laboratory reporting of notifiable conditions is automatic and comprehensive, eliminating the need for reporting from provider offices. While that is true in many instances, it is important to be aware of reporting requirements. Public health uses notifiable conditions information to aid in investigations, detect outbreaks, and for surveillance purposes, among other things.
In Washington, healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, clinical laboratories, veterinarians, and others have responsibilities for reporting suspected or confirmed cases of certain conditions under public health surveillance. For a complete list of notifiable conditions and related rules, see WAC 246-101.
Electronic laboratory reporting occurs automatically for most Inland Northwest commercial laboratories, including LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, ARUP, Interpath, Kaiser Washington, Providence Sacred Heart, Providence Holy Family, Centers for Disease Detection, and University of Washington Medical Center. While this list is not all inclusive, there are some notable missing players here, including Deaconess Lab, Ideal Options, BioReference Laboratories, and many others.
In particular, conditions that have only been clinically diagnosed, such as measles as mumps, must be reported to public health, even if confirmatory testing has not been ordered.
Additional laboratories may be added to the public health electronic automated reporting system, but for now, please note which labs automatically forward positive labs to public health and which do not. If ever in doubt, please call our office at 509.324.1442.