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Unified Medical Language System® (UMLS®)


SNOMED Clinical Terms® To Be Added To UMLS® Metathesaurus®

Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced on July 1, 2003, (press release)an agreement with the College of American Pathologists (CAP) that will make SNOMED Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT®) available to U.S. users at no cost through the National Library of Medicine's Unified Medical Language System® (UMLS).

Produced by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine--Clinical Terms) was formed by the convergence of SNOMED RT® and the United Kingdom's Clinical Terms Version 3 (formerly known as the Read Codes). With terms for more than 344,000 concepts, SNOMED CT is the most comprehensive clinical terminology available. It is being implemented throughout the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services, has issued a 5-year, $32.4 million contract to the CAP for a perpetual license for the core SNOMED CT (in Spanish and English) and ongoing updates. NLM is paying the annual update fees. Funding for the one-time payment for the perpetual license was provided by:

Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health (Office of the NIH Director & NLM
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Office of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Food and Drug Administration
Indian Health Service
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Health Resources and Services Administration
Department of Defense
Department of Veterans Affairs

NLM will distribute SNOMED CT within the UMLS Metathesaurus under the terms of a revised UMLS license agreement, which will include additional language concerning SNOMED CT. U.S. licensees will be able to use SNOMED (as distributed by NLM) in the U.S. without charge and without signing a separate license agreement with the CAP. Non-U.S. UMLS users will continue to require a separate license agreement with the CAP for production uses of SNOMED CT. Current UMLS users will have to sign the revised license agreement before receiving SNOMED CT within the UMLS. NLM estimates that it will take at least 6 months to integrate SNOMED CT into the UMLS Metathesaurus. Updates to SNOMED CT will be incorporated into the UMLS more quickly.

For additional information see the UMLS-SNOMED FAQs.