Quantities and units in medical science: a plea for standardization
Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation. Supplementum 214: 131-136
The paper puts forward the idea that a relative lack of interest in the quantitative aspects of pathophysiological processes has made medical practice as well as medical research vulnerable to misconceptions carried into the field by technical innovations. More attention to these matters may not only prevent much dangerous confusion but may also deepen the insight in pathophysiological relationships. This is elucidated with the help of the description of three instances-the confusion on the definition of oxygen saturation of haemoglobin, the resistance against the implementation of SI-units, and the standardization of haemoglobinometry-bearing on different aspects of the problem. It is concluded that international agreement on the definitions of concepts, quantities and units may provide a valuable aid in the development of the quantitative side of scientific medicine.