Background: Clinical laboratories play a vital role in patient diagnosis and management. However, blood specimens may be rejected for a variety of reasons, which may have substantial clinical consequences for patient safety. The quality team observed significant numbers of rejected samples from the emergency department and inpatient units due to hemolysis. A total of 1.43% of the blood samples were rejected, which was considerably higher than the target of 0.4%.
Methods: This project aimed to reduce the percentage of rejected blood samples from 1.43% (measured between January 2015 and April 2016) by 50% in the emergency department and the coronary ICU by December 2017. The team identified preanalytical errors as the primary reason for rejections. A multidisciplinary team was formed and tested several changes, including phlebotomy education, competency validation by direct observations, the use of appropriate consumables for sampling, and physician education for proper orders.. All specimens sent for blood chemistry, arterial blood gas analysis, hematology, and coagulation tests were included. Microbiology test specimens and point-of-care testing samples were excluded.
Results: The percentage of rejected blood samples dropped from 1.43% (January 2015-April 2016) to 0.47% in 2018, which was a statistically significant reduction (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Using a quality improvement approach for the detailed analyses of specimen rejection rates and related issues helped to formulate efficient plans to target this issue. Weekly rapid cycle improvements from January 2018 helped to achieve the team’s goals quickly and had a major impact in combination with other interventions.Reference:
Gupta P, Thomas M, Sbetan N, Chacko G, Savarimuthu I, Cherian P, Abas A, Shiju S, Karim S, Kanaan A, Bautista G, Elsalasiny N, Balushi SA, Haga AE, Hassan ME. A Quality Improvement Initiative to Reduce Rejected Laboratory Samples and Enhance Specimen Acceptability. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 May 19:S1553-7250(21)00098-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.04.005. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34090798.