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Observation FHIR Resource Proposal

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Owning committee name

Orders & Observations WG

Interested Work Groups

  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Clinical Genomics
  • Imaging Integration
  • Public Health and Emergency Response

FHIR Resource Development Project Insight ID


Scope of coverage

DEFINITION (SPECIMEN): Any material sample taken from a biological entity, including a sample obtained from a living organism or taken from the biological object after halting of all its life functions. Biospecimen can contain one or more components including but not limited to cellular molecules, cells, tissues, organs, body fluids, embryos, and body excretory products (source: NCIt, modified).

The specimen resource covers substances used for diagnostic and environmental testing. This includes all types of living and non-living subjects where a subject is defined as the host from which the specimen was obtained.

RIM scope

  • Role: Specimen (RoleClass=SPM)
    • Entity (player): Material (EntityClass="MAT")
    • Entity (scoper): Choice - Person, Non-Human Living Subject, Material)
  • Entity: Place (EntityClass="PLC")

Resource appropriateness

Simple assertions and measurements made about a patient, device or other subject.

The resource name as it appears in a RESTful URL is /observation/

Observations are a central element in healthcare, used to support diagnosis, monitor progress, determine baselines and patterns and even capture demographic characteristics. Fundamentally, observations are simple name/value pair assertions with little structure, though there are several resources such as DiagnosticReport to manage and represent rich aggregation patterns for observations. Expected uses for this resource include: •Vital signs: temperature, blood pressure, respiration rate •Laboratory Data and other Diagnostic Measures •Measurements emitted by Devices •Clinical assessments such as APGAR •Personal characteristics: height, weight, eye-color •Diagnoses (Note: track-able conditions, allergies, adverse reactions and more complex structures are handled elsewhere) •Social history: tobacco use, family supports, cognitive status •Core characteristics: pregnancy status, death assertion

Expected implementations


Content sources

  • HL7 v3 Laboratory Standard - Normative
  • HL7 v3 Other?
  • HL7 v2.x
  • HL7 OO Specimen DAM Project

Resource Relationships

  • Order
  • OrderResponse ?
  • DiagnosticReport
  • ImagingStudy ?
  • Problem


  • Vote by WG (Ready for ballot): July 2013
  • Ballot: September 2013

gForge Users

  • Lorraine Constable
  • Patrick Loyd