To examine critical value reporting policies and practices and to identify critical value ranges for selected common laboratory assays at inpatient division of laboratories of Alexandria hospitals.Methods
A cross-sectional descriptive study design was used. Subjects were from inpatient division of all laboratories of Alexandria hospitals (40 laboratories). Data were collected using a questionnaire composed of 4 sections. The first section explored hospital and laboratory characteristics. The second section assessed policies and procedures of critical value reporting. The third section explored the reporting process. The fourth section explored critical value ranges for selected common laboratory assays.Results
Written procedure for reporting of critical values was present in 77.5% of laboratories and a comprehensive list of critical values in 72.55%. For laboratories having a critical value list, the number of tests in the list ranged from 7 to 40. Three-fifths of laboratories had a policy for assessing the timeliness of reporting and 3 quarters stated that the laboratory policy requires feedback (60.0% and 75.0%, respectively). The hospital laboratory physician was responsible for critical value reporting followed by the laboratory technician (75.0% and 50.0%, respectively). The call is received mainly by nurses and physicians ordering the test (67.5% and 55.0%, respectively) and the channel of reporting is mainly the telephone or through sending test report to the ward (67.5% and 50.0%, respectively). Wireless technologies are used in reporting in only 10.0% of hospitals. The cutoff limits for reporting different assays showed considerable interlaboratory variation.Conclusions
Critical value policies and practices showed interinstitutional variation with deficiencies in some reporting practices. Selection of critical assays for notification and setting the limits of notification exhibited wide variation as well.