Study tackles labeling errors

October 6, 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: What's in a name? For newborns, maybe fewer medical errors

Related Stories

What's in a name? For newborns, maybe fewer medical errors

July 13, 2015
(HealthDay)—Using more specific names for newborns may reduce hospital mix-ups by roughly a third, a new study suggests.

BMC develops protocol for preserving forensic evidence after a terrorist attack

April 21, 2015
Boston Medical Center (BMC) pathologists have developed a set of protocols for processing and preserving forensic evidence, such as shrapnel, bullets and other projectiles, in surgical specimens (i.e. amputated limbs, injured ...

Recommended for you

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...


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.