A strategy for optimizing staffing to improve the timeliness of inpatient phlebotomy collections

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Dec;135(12):1576-80. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2011-0061-OA.


Context: The timely availability of inpatient test results is a key to physician satisfaction with the clinical laboratory, and in an institution with a phlebotomy service may depend on the timeliness of blood collections. In response to safety reports filed for delayed phlebotomy collections, we applied Lean principles to the inpatient phlebotomy service at our institution. Our goal was to improve service without using additional resources by optimizing our staffing model.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of a new phlebotomy staffing model on the timeliness of inpatient phlebotomy collections.

Design: We compared the median time of morning blood collections and average number of safety reports filed for delayed phlebotomy collections during a 6-month preimplementation period and 5-month postimplementation period.

Results: The median time of morning collections was 17 minutes earlier after implementation (7:42 am preimplementation; interquartile range, 6:27-8:48 am; versus 7:25 am postimplementation; interquartile range, 6:20-8:26 am). The frequency of safety reports filed for delayed collections decreased 80% from 10.6 per 30 days to 2.2 per 30 days.

Conclusion: Reallocating staff to match the pattern of demand for phlebotomy collections throughout the day represents a strategy for improving the performance of an inpatient phlebotomy service.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Boston
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling* / organization & administration
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling* / statistics & numerical data
  • Phlebotomy*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Workflow