Analysis of Laboratory Critical Value Reporting at a Large Academic Medical Center

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Reporting of laboratory critical values has become an issue of national attention as illustrated by recent guidelines described in the National Patient Safety Goals of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Herein, we report the results of an analysis of 37,503 consecutive laboratory critical values at our institution, a large urban academic medical center. We evaluated critical value reporting by test, laboratory specialty, patient type, clinical care area, time of day, and critical value limits. Factors leading to delays in critical value reporting are identified, and we describe approaches to improving this important operational and patient safety issue.

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