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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1725

Senator Baume asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice:

(   1 ) When will the new flexible system of metric units be officially in use in Australia in the practice of clinical pathology.

(2)   Will the conversion from mass concentration (mg. per litre) to substance concentration (millimoles per litre) cause confusion among some health workers.

(3)   What arrangements have been made to inform the medical profession and the other health professions of the problems and to provide them with appropriate conversion charts.

Senator Murphy - The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) A definitive document on the metric units recommended for use in clinical pathology was prepared by an expert committee appointed by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia and the Australian Association of Clinical Biochemists. It was published as Broadsheet No. 14 in October 1973 and is entitled 'SI Units and You'. It recommended that, where they were not already in use, the new units be employed from 1 January 1974. These recommendations have been adopted generally in many parts of Australia and are being progressively adopted elsewhere.

(2)   Presumably as a consequence of the wide dissemination of information regarding the change and the ready availability of expert advice, the change to the S.I. unit for substance concentration (millimole per litre) has been effected without difficulty. No confusion among health workers is expected in the future.

(3)   Copies of 'SI Units and You' have been issued free to all members of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia and the Australian Association of Clinical Biochemists. They may also be purchased. Additionally many extracts including specially prepared tables, graphical aids and conversion charts have been provided by interested bodies of medical and scientific workers, hospitals, private pathology practitioners and pharmaceutical suppliers.

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