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August 22, 1990

SI Units: A Wholehearted Effort Is Needed

Author Affiliations

University of California, Davis

University of California, Davis

JAMA. 1990;264(8):974. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450080060030

To the Editor.—  We are becoming increasingly concerned with the schizoid reporting of laboratory data occurring in the United States. Despite the passing by Congress of the Metric Conversion Act in 1975 endorsing Système International (SI) units, it was not until the mid-1980s that a plan for implementation was devised.1 In 1987 and 1988 leading medical journals published appropriate conversion tables and offered strong editorial support of the transition that would permit uniformity between nations and between disciplines as well.2,3 Indeed, adoption of SI units by respected medical journals is virtually uniform.What's the problem? We have surveyed the clinical laboratories of a representative group of northern California hospitals as well as the major reference laboratories that serve the state and nation. All are reporting their laboratory results in mass concentrations without regard for SI units. Clinicians are having only the old system reinforced, and medical students and