The prevalence of preanalytical errors in a Croatian ISO 15189 accredited laboratory

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BackgroundThe preanalytical phase is the most common source of laboratory errors. The goal of this descriptive study was to analyze the prevalence and type of preanalytical errors in relation to the site of sample collection (inpatient vs. outpatient) and the type of laboratory unit (hematology and coagulation vs. biochemistry). For the biochemistry unit, the data were also analyzed relative to the type of the analysis (stat vs. routine).MethodsWe retrospectively analyzed the sample and test request form error rate for a 1-year period, from January to December 2008.ResultsThe frequency of the sample errors differed significantly between the emergency and routine biochemistry unit (0.69% vs. 2.14%; p < 0.0001), and between inpatients and outpatients (1.12% vs. 1.36%; p = 0.0006). Hemolysis was the most frequent sample error, accounting for 65% of all unsuitable specimens in the emergency biochemistry unit. The total sample error rate did not differ between hematology and coagulation vs. the biochemistry unit. The frequency of test request form errors differed significantly with respect to the sample collection site (p < 0.0001), laboratory unit (p < 0.0001) and type of the analysis (p < 0.0001). Errors in the test request form were least frequent in the outpatient unit (2.98%) and most frequent in the routine biochemistry unit (65.94%).ConclusionsSample and test request form errors in our laboratory are occurring with a frequency comparable to that reported by others. Continuous educational action is needed for all stakeholders involved in laboratory testing to improve the quality of the preanalytical phase of the total testing process.

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