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Managing Preanalytical Processes for Patient Safety


Terry Jo Gile, MT (ASCP), MA Ed
Contributing Editor

Positive patient identification (ID) is a major put by healthcare accrediting bodies for the past few years. Until recently, the costs associated with hardware and software were beyond the reach of the average hospital or laboratory. Today there are multiple vendors with devices that can be integrated into a facilitys IS requirements with ease. Some systems are better for small facilities, while others are best for larger institutions. It is important to compare each vendor with particular requirements so that an informed decision can be made. Studies show that 46 percent of laboratory errors take place in the preanalytical phase and 68.2 percent of preanalytical errors occur from specimen collection (Plebani M, Carraro P. Mistakes in a stat laboratory: Types and frequency. Clin Chem 1997;43:1348-1351). Errors occur every day in every healthcare facility worldwide. Sometimes, unfortunately, these errors prove fatal. How can a facilitys staff and administration prevent these errors? The technology is here with wireless, simple-to-use patient ID systems. The decision boils down to features and cost. So how do you determine which product works in your facility?

Evaluate the Existing Process:

Donald Berwick, professor at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and patient safety advocate, says, "Understanding your process first can lead you toward choosing technology as a solution." Two things to consider for process compatibility are the laboratory information system (LIS) interface and system management. A patient safety system should be able to interface with the existing laboratory information system (LIS) to update collection information. A system that will generate a comprehensive management report will help assess the impact the system has on reducing collection errors. Knowing how your workflow operates is the first step in
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