Pre-Analytical Errors are Not an Acceptable Occurrence

When it comes to erroneous laboratory test results, the increasing number of errors is posing serious question on the quality of lab testing methods. For many years it was quite normal for the testing methods to be blamed and the physicians involved would simply order retesting. Today, testing methods and equipment are far more sophisticated, effectively ruling them out in most instances. It is now becoming far more obvious that pre-analytical errors are responsible for the vast majority of erroneous results.

These pre-analytical errors tend to occur during the collection or transportation of the samples. In many cases they occur because the person who is collecting the sample fails to properly identify the patient that the sample has been collected from. This type of error is not only easy to correct, but absolutely unforgivable as it could have serious consequences if not caught by the physician who ordered the testing.

It is estimated that pre-analytical errors account for more than 90% of all erroneous results, any error no matter what phase of the collection, transportation, testing or reporting can result in a very serious misdiagnosis that cause grievous harm to a patient. It is vital that all personnel involved in these phases are fully cognizant of the risks and are trained in taking the right steps to ensure that they do not occur; this can reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis or accidental death.

Pre-analytical errors should never be considered as inevitable as they can easily be prevented with the right training and the use of proper quality control procedures in all phases of the collection and testing process. All employees should be required to take continuing education classes to ensure that not only are they familiar with current procedures, but that they become aware of any changes that can serve to reduce the risk of this type of error occurring.

Collection techniques are not the only reason for pre-analytical errors, often the patient's themselves are to be blamed for the erroneous results. When they fail to adhere to the diet prescribed by their physician or fail to fast for the required amount of time before the test, they create a dramatic negative effect on the outcome of certain tests. Obesity and blood drawing immediately after exercise can also create negative impact on the test result. All of these factors can have serious consequences regarding the outcome of testing.

Your staff is going to need continuous training to learn how to avoid the various causes of pre-analytical errors. At ComplianceOnline you can access this type of training either online via a recorded class or by ordering the course on CD. Your laboratory cannot afford to continue to make these types of easily corrected errors. The course will teach your staff how to investigate the errors and find the cause in order to correct it. They will learn what the FDA guidelines are regarding re-analysis of samples and what constitutes a valid reason for re-analysis so that all of the patients who come to your laboratory receive only the most accurate results from each of their tests.