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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Quality Control. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Reference Ranges

  • Reference ranges can help show when a test result is drastically out-of-line with expectations by providing a range of most likely values for any given analyte.
  • Reference ranges should reflect the mean value in the population and a certain level of variation (usually 2 standard deviations).
  • 95% of all normal patients will fall inside the reference range of an analyte. Values outside the reference ranges could indicate not only an abnormality in the patient, but also a problem with the test results.
  • For example, should 20% of results suddenly begin to exceed a given reference range, there is most likely a testing error.