Background: In light of increasing attention focused on patient safety and the need to reduce laboratory mistakes, it is crucial for clinical laboratories to collect statics on error rates over the whole testing cycle, particularly on the pre-analytical phase.
Methods: Memorial Hospital has a laboratory service providing stat and routine tests. From January 2005 to December 2007, a total of 766,095 specimens were received in our laboratory. The frequencies and types of pre-analytical errors and the potential targets for quality improvement strategies were evaluated.
Results: The relative frequencies of pre-analytical errors were ordered in a gradually decreasing trend through years; 0.50 % in 2005; 0.25 % in 2006 and 0.07 % in 2007 (p < 0.0001; between 2005 and 2007). The most common mistake was incorrect/missing identification (42 %).
Conclusions: We believe that the use of standardized routines and regular staff training, combined with an exchange of the existing paper-based referral management system with an electronic system, can increase the safety in the pre-analytical processes.
DOI: Clin. Lab. 2010;56:553-557