Study tackles labeling errors

Oct 06, 2008

With a long-held commitment to continuously improving the quality and safety of patient care, Mayo Clinic researchers are recommending a new technologically-advanced labeling system aimed at reducing specimen labeling errors in a high-volume gastrointestinal endoscopy center. That conclusion is based on the results of a study they are presenting at the 2008 American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Annual Meeting.

"The Gastroenterology and Colorectal Surgery outpatient endoscopy unit at our facility yields over 30,000 specimen bottles that are sent for pathologic review every year," says Dawn Francis, M.D., the lead author and a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic. "Over the past several years, Mayo Clinic identified some issues with mislabeling of tissue specimens in the units. Most labeling errors have been due to either the wrong patient label or no label being affixed to a specimen bottle. As a result, a quality improvement initiative was created to reduce the number of specimen-labeling errors."

This study used a technology, radio-frequency identification (RFID), to track biopsy specimens taken during gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures and to automate identification. An RFID tag can be applied to or incorporated into an object so that it can be identified by using radio waves. Radio-frequency identification is used in other settings, such as libraries or passports, as an automated tracking system. This is its first application to track specimens in a health care setting.

Researchers reviewed the number of specimen-labeling errors for the first three months of 2007, prior to the implementation of the initiative and the first three months of 2008, six months
after the initiation of RFID specimen labeling. Specimen-labeling errors were categorized as Class 1 (only typographical with no potential patient care consequences), Class 2 (minor error, unlikely to have patient care consequences) and Class 3 (significant error that has the potential to detrimentally impact patient care).

The endoscopy unit sent 8,231 specimen bottles to the pathology laboratory for evaluation during the first three months of 2007, and 8,539 bottles in the first three months of 2008. Compared to 765 errors in 2007, only 47 errors were noted in 2008. Overall, serious errors were low anyway, but the new labeling system reduced such errors even more, minimizing risk for patients. The two incidents of Class 3 errors in the first quarter of 2008 were recognized and corrected prior to specimen processing in the pathology laboratory.

"This system has provided us a great opportunity to enhance safety and quality efforts in specimen management. The RFID system has allowed us to reduce the number of data transcription points during the handling of these very important specimens," says Schuyler Sanderson, M.D., a pathologist involved in the research study. "It appears that this quality initiative, with emphasis on correct data creation and transcription point reduction, has the potential to significantly improve our clinical practice."

Previous Mayo Clinic research on RFID technology revealed that human error decreased dramatically as multiple checkpoints in specimen handling were eliminated.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Explore further: Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Local school pupil unearths priceless butterfly specimens

Sep 12, 2013

A 17-year-old student who spent just four weeks at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History has rediscovered hundreds of priceless specimens collected by Victorian natural historian Alfred Russel Wallace ...

Draft version of the Neanderthal genome completed

Feb 12, 2009

In a development which could reveal the links between modern humans and their prehistoric cousins, scientists said Thursday they have mapped a first draft of the Neanderthal genome. Researchers used DNA fragments ...

Recommended for you

Ebola scare boosts business for US company

10 hours ago

The Ebola scare has subsided in the United States, at least temporarily, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease.

Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy (Update)

18 hours ago

Thailand's parliament has voted to ban commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over the unregulated industry following a series scandals including the case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down's ...

Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Mexican boy who had massive tumor recovering

Nov 25, 2014

An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had pieces of a massive tumor removed and who drew international attention after U.S. officials helped him get treatment in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico is still recovering after ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.