A Proposed Set of Metrics to Reduce Patient Safety Risk From Within the Anatomic Pathology Laboratory

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Laboratory medicine


Background: Anatomic pathology laboratory workflow consists of 3 major specimen handling processes. Among the workflow are preanalytic, analytic, and postanalytic phases that contain multistep subprocesses with great impact on patient care. A worldwide representation of experts came together to create a system of metrics, as a basis for laboratories worldwide, to help them evaluate and improve specimen handling to reduce patient safety risk.

Method: Members of the Initiative for Anatomic Pathology Laboratory Patient Safety (IAPLPS) pooled their extensive expertise to generate a list of metrics highlighting processes with high and low risk for adverse patient outcomes.

Results: Our group developed a universal, comprehensive list of 47 metrics for patient specimen handling in the anatomic pathology laboratory. Steps within the specimen workflow sequence are categorized as high or low risk. In general, steps associated with the potential for specimen misidentification correspond to the high-risk grouping and merit greater focus within quality management systems. Primarily workflow measures related to operational efficiency can be considered low risk.

Conclusion: Our group intends to advance the widespread use of these metrics in anatomic pathology laboratories to reduce patient safety risk and improve patient care with development of best practices and interlaboratory error reporting programs.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Laboratories; Pathology, Clinical; Patient Safety; Quality Assurance, Health Care

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