An Assessment of the State of Current Practice in Coagulation Laboratories

Am J Clin Pathol. 2016 Sep;146(3):378-83. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqw121. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


Objectives: To assess the state of current practice in coagulation laboratories regarding three pressing issues: staffing, handling Ebola specimens, and testing/billing for tests that measure direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC).

Methods: A survey and analysis of specialized coagulation laboratories in North America was conducted.

Results: Approximately 4,000 special coagulation tests-per-technologist-per-year was rated as either a "good" staffing level or "adequate-but-ideally-need-more" employees. Requiring technologists to perform more than that was rated as an "inadequate" staffing level. For Ebola patients, coagulation testing is mostly performed by point-of-care. Only 26.1% would perform coagulation tests for Ebola specimens within their laboratory (rather than at the bed side or a separate designated space outside the laboratory). Coagulation tests offered for Ebola patients were limited: prothrombin time (63.0% of laboratories), activated partial thromboplastin time (37.0%), D-dimer (13.0%), and fibrinogen (8.7%); 26.1% of laboratories did not offer any coagulation tests for Ebola patients. Approximately 35% of special coagulation laboratories bill for at least one laboratory test for DOACs: 33% bill for an anti-Xa calibrated with rivaroxaban, 17% bill for an anti-Xa calibrated with apixaban, and 27% bill for at least one of several tests for dabigatran. Approximately 48% do not offer any tests for DOACs.

Conclusions: These results may help laboratories negotiate for additional technologists if needed, prepare for Ebola specimens, and manage the demand for laboratory tests for new DOAC anticoagulants.

Keywords: Apixaban; Dabigatran; Direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC); Ebola; Rivaroxaban; Specialized coagulation laboratory; Staffing.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation Tests / standards*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / diagnosis*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / pathology
  • Humans
  • Laboratories, Hospital / standards*
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Specimen Handling / standards*