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National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue

Pathology is a key part of most patient pathways and effective NHS pathology services are the foundation for high quality diagnosis, treatment and care. GPs and hospital doctors rely on accurate and reliable information from pathologists to help them make the right treatment decisions that will deliver the best outcomes for their patients. Until now, there was no way of reporting pathology test results in a consistent, standardised way across the UK.

The National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue (NLMC) aims to standardise the requesting, reporting and analysing of pathology tests to help ensure the right patient gets the right test at the right time. It has been developed jointly by the HSCIC, the RCPath and National Pathology Programme at NHS England with oversight provided by the Governance Board.

Pathology Catalogues governance board and stakeholders

The NLMC is a standardised list of pathology tests that have been validated for use within the NHS. A team of Pathology Discipline Leads, led by a National Clinical Lead, have defined the tests, which are then reviewed by Subject Matter Experts. Each item in the list is coded based on a number of core attributes that make each definition unique. This means that hospital doctors, GPs, nurses and other health professionals can be certain they are requesting the right test every time.

As well as increasing the accuracy and suitability of tests, the NLMC promotes safer and more effective data transfer and collation across healthcare systems. Standard naming conventions mean there is no ambiguity in either test requests or results, ensuring that communication between laboratories and clinical users is completely reliable.

The NLMC content is provided in an XML format and may be used within Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), Electronic Patient Records and Pathology Order Communications. NHS organisations will be able to choose which list of tests to make available to their clinicians dependent on the local pathology services provided.

The National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue (NLMC) is available for viewing (read only) by registered users. Please register using the link below and follow instructions on the registration email. The catalogue shows the nature of the content as well. The catalogue has a very extensive test and report repertoire but only 'Board Approved' items are visible at present.

The deployment of NLMC is being addressed by Data Standards in Health & Social Care Information Centre, who are developing a mandate for this purpose.

Further Information on the nature and aims of the catalogue:

Adobe PDF (42k)NLMC overview

Adobe PDF (42k)The National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue description (2009)

NLMC Editorial Principles

The NLMC Editorial Principles for the creation of content for NLMC are being updated to meet the requirements of specialty and sub-specialty requirements. These updates will be posted on the College website for peer review. You will note that they are mirrored in the PBCL editorial principles in order to facilitate the transition from PBCL to NLMC.

The Editorial Principles for the requesting of investigations in the following specialist areas are available here:

Microsoft Word (83k)Allergy

Microsoft Word (83k)Application of Editorial Principles to Allergy

Microsoft Word (83k) Genetics

Microsoft Word (83k)Immunophenotyping

Microsoft Word (83k)NLMC Report Items Editorial Principles


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