Bloodwork and labs are an integral, versatile staple of healthcare’s diagnostic toolbox. Genetic predispositions, nutritional breakdowns, organ functions, there’s no shortage of valuable information to be drawn from even a small sample of blood from a patient. Unfortunately, as essential as this service is, the process hasn’t been fine-tuned to the point of eliminating instances of human error or inaccurate results. In fact, a study published in 2014 estimated that at least 12 million diagnostic errors occur in the average year. This accounts for 1 in 20 adults, meaning it’s very likely that most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime.

Lab Errors are defined as any defect that occurs throughout the entire testing process. This can be from the process of ordering the test itself all to the way to the reporting of the test results. The silver-lining to this admittedly scary number is that there are patterns to the most common causes of lab errors. Whether these errors be attributed to human error or inaccurate readings/results, the right medical grade computer can be cleverly employed to address and quash many, if not all, sources of error in a lab.

Barcode Scanning Eliminates Incorrect Test Orders

One of the most common causes of lab errors actually occurs before the lab is even conducted. Patient misidentification stories run rampant in healthcare and are one of the leading causes of patients receiving tests that they don’t truly require. Thankfully, barcode scanning has made patient identification not only more accurate, but quicker as well.

Several acute care facilities have seen wonderful results after implementing medical tablets equipped with barcode scanning peripherals capable of scanning in patients through wristbands they’re given upon their admittance. What truly makes solutions such as these effective at eliminating incorrect test orders is the ease with which patients can be scanned in and out for information.

The right manufacturer can offer medical tablets with barcode scanning peripherals built into the tablet itself, making it highly portable, user friendly, and lightweight. And when all that’s needed to identify a patient is a second long swiping of a wristband, it becomes hard to neglect.

No More Improper Labeling Lab Errors

The same barcode scanning capabilities can also be used to address another of the common sources of lab error: inaccurate sample labeling. Mislabeling of a sample can be catastrophic for care facilities. Improper blood type labeling, for example, can make simple blood transfusions an incredibly dangerous practice while samples that are labeled with the wrong patient name can result in misdiagnosis and, in turn, negative patient outcomes and even malpractice cases.

Facilities such as Houchin Community Blood Bank are able to print labels for blood samples taken that include an identifying barcode which can quickly be scanned and confirmed for accuracy, eliminating the possibility of the misdiagnoses mentioned earlier.

Like the tablet solutions we mentioned, medical cart computers with these scanning peripherals built into the device itself can make this accuracy checking solution deployable bedside — at the point of care — meaning mistakes can be caught as early on as possible.

More Effective Sample Handling

Mistakes made prior to samples being tested make up 70% of lab-related errors. This makes the way a blood sample is handled just as important as how it is labeled in regards to eliminating lab errors.

More often than not, what causes a blood sample to become compromised and result in lab errors is “Hemolysis”, or the breaking down of red blood cells which can have a direct impact on lab results. Hemolysis can occur for a number of different reasons but more often than not they are caused by improper storage.

Contrary to what many may think, a lot of careful timing goes into running a blood lab and storing samples as is evidenced by a helpful resource posted by the CDC. Upon a sample being drawn, it must be stored in a very specific tube and held upright for 15-30 minutes to allow for a degree of coagulation. From there, it must be centrifuged within 4 hours of being collected to prevent Hemolysis from occurring. From there, depending on whether or not the test will be run within 48 hours of its initial collection, there are different storage methods and temperatures that must be followed lest Hemolysis occurs and completely compromises the accuracy of a lab’s results.

With this much timing involved, knowing exactly when a test was ordered, performed, and stored becomes absolutely paramount in drawing the most accurate results from a lab. Being able to scan a blood sample with any of the barcode scanning medical hardware we mentioned earlier can quickly give staff information on when and how a sample was drawn from a patient. With this information, they can then adjust their storage and testing procedures on the medical-grade computer in front of them to ensure the most accurate and timely results possible.

Larger Screens Mean Less Clerical Errors

Being able to access patient records quickly and seamlessly is important, but once those records have been pulled up, hardware and software needs to aid physicians in being able to effectively digest and comprehend information housed on those records. Unfortunately, with how jam-packed with information the average EHR record is, clerical and note-taking issues abound.

Information overload caused by crammed screens can very easily translate into overlooked patient information that can cause a care provider to order tests that miss the mark. Thankfully, 4k medical displays provide higher resolution and larger screen sizes that house more information, meaning staff won’t need to navigate cluttered pages of dozens of tabs. Addressing EHR information overload with hardware like this gives physicians a better chance at getting a larger look at a patient’s health history and ordering tests that will actually yield actionable results. What’s even better is that, once the test results have been found, EHRs can instantly be updated, resulting in more accurately maintained patient records.  

Eliminating Lab Errors Means Eliminating Human Error

Human error and improper planning are among the most common sources of error in a lab. More often than not, when looking to address these lab errors, what’s needed is hardware designed to eliminate human error by addressing contributors to burnout and EHR inefficiency. For more information on the medical grade hardware that can help you do just that, contact an expert from Cybernet today.