ISG Blog

3 Ways Specimen Labeling Errors Threaten Your Laboratory

Re-posted with permission from PDC Healthcare and edited.

According to an internal survey of PDC laboratory label users, with an average 5,500 specimens passing through laboratories monthly, accurate identification is critical, and drastically impacts your lab’s operational performance.

A study published in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine stated that specimen labeling errors account for 55.5% of identification errors in the lab. Specimen labeling errors continue to threaten all healthcare facilities, no matter their size or amount of specimens processed. No laboratory is immune to the damaging effects yielded by specimen labeling errors. In fact, 66% of surveyed lab clinicians claim specimen labeling improvements are needed in their facilities.

Improving patient safety and reducing specimen errors continue to be top priorities among laboratories, with 90% of surveyed labs stating specimen labeling errors are a key concern for their labs. Mislabeled, unlabeled, or incomplete specimen labels often go unnoticed, generating damaging repercussions for your laboratory. Shedding light on such an important and widespread issue will help your facility gain awareness, so tools can be employed to help reduce specimen labeling errors.

Here are 3 Ways Specimen Labeling Errors Threaten Your Laboratory:

1. Compromise Patient Safety

Patient safety is the utmost concern among healthcare facilities, and labeling errors can place your patient in dire life-or-death situations. Taking into consideration that up to 70% of treatment options are determined by lab results, it is imperative that all specimen labels be labeled correctly with the proper patient identification, so that all lab results correspond to the correct patient. Errors in specimen labeling lead to a higher number of inaccurate test results (e.g. wrong patient-wrong results), which can delay patient’s results and treatment options. This is not only dangerous to the health of the patient, but negatively impacts their satisfaction with your facility and compromises their peace of mind.

2. Increase Lab & Hospital Expenses

Specimen labeling errors not only compromise the safety of your patient, but also increase lab and hospital expenses. Mislabeled or misaligned labels lead to added costs for retesting and supplementary supplies. Lab retests caused by errors may not be reimbursed, leaving your lab and hospital susceptible to unnecessary hidden expenses that can add up quickly. Increased staff hours and length of patient stay are also costly consequences associated with specimen labeling errors.

3. Inefficiency Slows Down Your Lab

The threats specimen labeling errors have on your laboratory surpass monetary increases, and hinder the efficiency of your lab. Valuable staff time is wasted by performing label error corrections. When staff must perform numerous patient sample re-draws and retesting, the efficiency and productivity of your lab diminishes, and staff productivity and satisfaction is negatively affected.

What Can You Do To Overcome These Threats?

Any labeling error, no matter how small it may seem at the time, leaves your lab vulnerable and at risk, ultimately compromising the safety of your patients. Talk to your local ISG expert about our healthcare labeling solutions from PDC Healthcare.

With our thermal label printers and quality patient wristband and label solutions, we can help your healthcare facility improve the accuracy of your bedside and laboratory labeling system.

Also, come back next week to learn about 3 best practices for reducing labeling errors!


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