When it comes to diagnostics, laboratories in hospitals play a critical role. Getting accurate results back means doctors can effectively determine the best options for a patient when it’s time to decide on the best treatment options. Studies have found that up to 70 percent of lab results end up determining what treatment procedure would work best for a particular patient. Numbers like that mean hospital staff need to ensure accuracy on healthcare labels with every specimen that comes into the lab.

Mistakes on Healthcare Labels

One of the highest concerns when it comes to accurate test results is mistakes on healthcare labels. The Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine published a study that found over 55 percent of errors in the lab were due to labeling errors. When errors occur, it can be detrimental to the health of the patient. It can take valuable time to retest and get the proper results, meaning that the patient has to wait even longer to start treatments. In the case of many diseases and proper treatment, time is of the essence.

Survey Results

A survey of lab managers, supervisors, directors, and other personnel was conducted in 2017 and again in 2018 by TechValidate on behalf of PDC Healthcare. Questions were asked relating to priorities for laboratories. Both years’ results cited the top concerns as 1) improving patient safety, and 2) reducing specimen errors with both responses being considered essential for the laboratories. Other, lesser concerns were listed as improving process efficiency, cost reduction, and new lab regulations compliance, in that order.

When asked what errors most often occur in the lab, respondents stated improper specimen collection and handling, followed closely by mislabeled specimens. Other concerns were incomplete specimen labels, mismatched specimens, misplaced specimens, illegible specimens, and improper testing on specimens.

Regulatory Concerns

When it comes to regulatory concerns, one of the biggest concerns stems from the upcoming requirements from The College of American Pathologists (CAP) and their Laboratory Accreditation Program checklist. To become accredited, laboratories must meet specific guidelines and almost 3,000 requirements during inspections to remain in compliance with the program.

By addressing patient safety and accurate specimen labeling, the Joint Commission’s Laboratory National Patient Safety Goals aims to reduce the amount of specimen labeling errors. It plans on using a patient verifying system along with two separate unique patient identifiers to reduce the number of mistakes. Using this type of system should reduce the number of labeling errors, meaning doctors can get the right results as fast as possible.

Solving the Problem of Mistakes on Healthcare Labels

Patient safety, accurate results, and proper treatment promptly are all concerns doctors have. By being able to reduce errors in the lab, doctors can help their patients more efficiently. One way to improve the situation is by accurately identifying patients with ID wristbands and medical labels. Positive patient identification is a crucial first step in streamlining the lab testing process. Once a patient has been accurately identified, labeling should be able to match back to the proper patient, helping to eliminate errors.

When it comes to mistakes on healthcare labels, human error and being distracted top the list for errors, although these are closely followed by patient misidentification and illegible handwriting. By using labels produced by quality machines that print out all the necessary information, misidentification and illegible handwriting are no longer problems for the lab, immediately reducing a significant amount of errors.

Nurses are often overworked as there is a nursing shortage nationwide. During long shifts when taking specimens from patients, they can often be interrupted by other staff. Both of these may be factors as to why nurses were named as the highest contributors to specimen labeling errors within the hospital. However, nurses are also often the main or only conduit between the patient and the lab. For more accuracy, nurses need a better, more reliable system that can help them to quickly identify the specimen and what patient it came from before sending it to the lab, even during busy times or when they might get interrupted. The answer to many of these errors is using the right equipment which fosters a level of security and identity that is difficult to mistake.

Trusted Leaders for Over 60 Years

Looking for the right solution for your hospital or medical clinic is as easy as contacting Higgins, where we offer a wide range of medical and hospital products. Higgins is proud to provide industry-leading PDC Healthcare Medical & Hospital Wristbands, Labels, and Bracelets to help eliminate any labeling errors. Both Higgins and PDC Healthcare have been trusted leaders for over 60 years, each with more than six decades of experience. PDC Healthcare is a trusted leader in patient identification, and its wristbands are in use today at over 80% of U.S. hospitals. Give us a call at 800.486.1312 today.

Source: 2019-Lab-Specimen-ID-Report.pdf