In Washington State, laboratories are legally required to notify public health authorities of suspected or confirmed cases of selected diseases or conditions. This is referred to as notifiable conditions reporting.
Per the Washington State Board of Health (WAC 246-101-005), the purpose of notifiable conditions reporting is to provide the information necessary for public health officials to protect the public's health by tracking communicable diseases and other conditions. These data are critical to local health departments and the Departments of Health (DOH) and Labor and Industries in their efforts to prevent and control the spread of diseases and other conditions. Public health officials take steps to protect the public based on these notifications. Treating persons already ill, providing preventive therapies for individuals who came into contact with infectious agents, investigating and halting outbreaks, and removing harmful health exposures are key ways public health officials protect the public. Public health workers also use these data to assess broader patterns, including historical trends and geographic clustering. By analyzing the broader picture, officials are able to take appropriate actions, including outbreak investigation, redirection of program activities, or policy development.
1) Know the requirements for laboratories
- Review Washington Administrative Code (WAC) reporting requirements - See Reporting Requirements for Clinical Laboratories section below
- Refer to the lab reporting poster for a user-friendly summary of your reporting requirements
- Refer to DOH's Notifiable Conditions website for additional information.
2) Confirm your lab is flagging notifiable results and forwarding them to appropriate public health jurisdictions
- Refer to the lab reporting poster for important information regarding:
- What results need to be reported
- Where to report, including pertinent contact information for Local Health Jurisdictions and DOH HIV, Lead and TB programs
- What timeframe results need to be reported within
- What information needs to be included with each report and with each specimen submission sent out to a reference lab
- Report notifiable condition results by phone, fax or Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR), with the following exceptions:
- Immediately notifiable results must be reported, as soon as possible, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to a live person. If reporting by fax or ELR, results must be confirmed to be received by a live person (WAC 246-101-220(1)). Refer to the lab reporting poster for daytime and after hours phone numbers.
- Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) is the automated, secure electronic transmission of notifiable condition laboratory reports from laboratories to public health. ELR provides many benefits to labs (including automation and timelier reporting) and public health (including faster notification and more accurate information). Labs must complete onboarding activities to be approved for ELR production submission. If your laboratory is interested in setting up ELR, please visit the ELR website for more information.
Learn more about notifiable conditions reporting requirements for laboratories by reviewing applicable sections of the Washington Administrative Code.
246-101-201 Notifiable conditions and laboratories.
246-101-205 Responsibilities and duties of the laboratory director.
246-101-210 Means of specimen submission.
246-101-215 Content of documentation accompanying specimen submission.
246-101-220 Means of notification for positive preliminary test results and positive final test results.
246-101-225 Content of notifications for positive preliminary test results and positive final test results.
246-101-010 Definitions within the notifiable conditions regulations.
COVID-19 - How to Report Laboratory Data (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Review our list of Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a variety of clinical laboratory notifiable condition reporting questions, including:
- General Reporting Questions - Borderline, Indeterminate and Equivocal Results; IgG Results; Notification to Public Health - What to Include; Reference Lab Results
- Condition-Specific Reporting Questions - Blood Lead, Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, Coccidioides, Hepatitis, HIV, Influenza, MRSA, Syphilis, Tuberculosis, Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA), Zika
Refer to the Reporting Communications Archive for notifiable conditions-related communications sent from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to laboratories through a variety of outlets, including emails/letters to Lab Directors and Staff, Elaborations newsletters, and Washington Administrative Code (WAC) updates.
The Office of the State Health Officer guides ongoing surveillance and analysis to identify factors influencing diseases and provide technical assistance on data collection, analysis and interpretation.
- For questions regarding notifiable conditions reporting for clinical laboratories, contact Dr. Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 206-418-5406
- For questions regarding Electronic Laboratory Reporting, send an email inquiry to ELR@doh.wa.gov.