Evaluation of effectiveness of a computerized notification system for reporting critical values

Am J Clin Pathol. 2009 Mar;131(3):432-41. doi: 10.1309/AJCPYS80BUCBXTUH.


Failure to adequately communicate a critical laboratory value is a potential cause of adverse events. Accreditation requirements specify that clinical laboratories must undertake assessments and appropriate measures to improve the timeliness of critical value reporting and prompt receipt by the responsible caregiver. Documentation and communication processes must be regularly monitored and implemented under ongoing systems for quality monitoring. Critical value reporting is an important phase of the clinical laboratory testing process, and notifications of results outside the target time can indicate ineffectiveness of the process. In the present study, we report data obtained in a 12-month period of critical values analysis and describe a computerized communication system conducive to improving the quality of critical value reporting at a university hospital. Automated communication improves the timeliness of notification and avoids the potential errors for which accreditation programs require read-back of the result. The communication also improves the likelihood of reaching the physician on call and may provide important decision support.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Systems*
  • Hematologic Tests*
  • Hospital Communication Systems*
  • Humans
  • Laboratories / standards*
  • Pathology, Clinical / instrumentation*
  • Pathology, Clinical / methods
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care