Purpose: Laboratory data are extensively used in medical practice; consequently, laboratory errors have a tremendous impact on patient safety. Therefore, programs designed to identify and reduce laboratory errors, as well as, setting specific strategies are required to minimize these errors and improve patient safety. The purpose of this paper is to identify part of the commonly encountered laboratory errors throughout our practice in laboratory work, their hazards on patient health care and some measures and recommendations to minimize or to eliminate these errors.
Design/methodology/approach: Recording the encountered laboratory errors during May 2008 and their statistical evaluation (using simple percent distribution) have been done in the department of laboratory of one of the private hospitals in Egypt. Errors have been classified according to the laboratory phases and according to their implication on patient health.
Findings: Data obtained out of 1,600 testing procedure revealed that the total number of encountered errors is 14 tests (0.87 percent of total testing procedures). Most of the encountered errors lay in the pre- and post-analytic phases of testing cycle (representing 35.7 and 50 percent, respectively, of total errors). While the number of test errors encountered in the analytic phase represented only 14.3 percent of total errors. About 85.7 percent of total errors were of non-significant implication on patients health being detected before test reports have been submitted to the patients. On the other hand, the number of test errors that have been already submitted to patients and reach the physician represented 14.3 percent of total errors. Only 7.1 percent of the errors could have an impact on patient diagnosis.
Practical implications: The findings of this study were concomitant with those published from the USA and other countries. This proves that laboratory problems are universal and need general standardization and bench marking measures.
Originality/value: Original being the first data published from Arabic countries that evaluated the encountered laboratory errors and launch the great need for universal standardization and bench marking measures to control the laboratory work.
Keywords: Health and safety; Medical records; Patient safety; Private healthcare; Service quality.