Background: Preanalytical errors cause a decrease in the accuracy of clinical laboratory results. We analyzed preanalytical errors (preAEs) made in the clinical laboratory of a university hospital.
Methods: All samples received in a centralized laboratory from January 1, to December 31, 2018, were analyzed retrospectively. The categories of preAEs were improper request, incorrect labeling, improper collection/transport, inadequate sample volume, inappropriate container, hemolysis, and sample clotting. The rates of preAEs in these categories were calculated according to sample type, laboratory subunit, department, sampling place, sampling time, and patient age.
Results: Of 1,082,014 samples received and analyzed by the laboratory, 6,848 (0.63%) were classified as having preAEs. The most frequent categories of preAE were hemolysis (44.6%), sample clotting (30.8%), and inadequate volume (16.7%). The most frequent preAE category for whole-blood and serum/plasma was clotting and hemolysis, respectively. The most frequent preAE category in the blood bank, clinical chemistry, immunology, and test referral service laboratory subunits was hemolysis, in the hematology subunit it was sample clotting, and in the microbiology and urinalysis subunits it was inadequate sample volume. Surgical departments had a higher rate of preAEs than did non-surgical departments (p < 0.0001). Samples drawn in the sampling room showed the lowest frequencies of preAEs (0.01%). Samples drawn on general wards from 5 pm to 5 am, when duty nurses perform sampling, showed a preAE rate of 2.80%. The rate of preAEs increased with patient age.
Conclusions: This analysis of preAEs is the most comprehensive to date. Our findings will promote the provision of high-quality laboratory services to clinicians and their patients.