Laboratory error reporting rates can change significantly with year-over-year examination

Diagnosis (Berl). 2018 Mar 28;5(1):15-19. doi: 10.1515/dx-2017-0043.


Background: Incident reporting systems are useful tools to raise awareness of patient safety issues associated with healthcare error, including errors associated with the medical laboratory.

Methods: Previously, we presented the analysis of data compiled by the British Columbia Patient Safety & Learning System over a 3-year period. A second comparable set was collected and analyzed to determine if reported error rates would tend to remain stable or change.

Results: Compared to the original set, the second set presented changes that were both materially and statistically significant. Overall, the total number of reports increased by 297% with substantial changes between the pre-examination, examination and post-examination phases (χ2: 993.925, DF=20; p<0.00001). While the rate of change for pre-examination (clerical and collection) errors were not significantly different than the total year results, the rate of change for reporting examination errors rose by 998%. While the exact reason for dramatic change is not clear, possible explanations are provided.

Conclusions: Longitudinal error rate tracking is a useful approach to monitor for laboratory quality improvement.

Keywords: extra analytical; laboratory error; patient safety; quality; reporting system.

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia
  • Humans
  • Laboratories / standards*
  • Laboratories / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors