Termination of Repeat Testing in Chemical Laboratories Based on Practice Guidelines: Examining the Effect of Rule-Based Repeat Testing in a Transplantation Center

J Anal Methods Chem. 2021 May 13;2021:9955990. doi: 10.1155/2021/9955990. eCollection 2021.


Background: Although the automation of instruments has reduced the variability of results and errors of analysis, in some laboratories, repeating a test to confirm its accuracy is still performed for critical and noncritical results. However, the importance of repeat testing is not well established yet, and there are no clear criteria for repeating a test.

Materials and methods: In this cross-sectional study, all repeated tests for 26 biochemical analytes (i.e., albumin, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), amylase, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), bilirubin total (BT), bilirubin direct (BD), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), calcium, chloride (Cl), cholesterol total (CholT), creatine kinase (CK), creatinine (Cr), glucose, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-c), iron, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), LDL-c, lipase, magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (Ph), protein total (ProtT), total iron binding capacity (TIBC), triglyceride (TG), and uric acid) were assessed in both critical and noncritical ranges over two consecutive months (routine subjective test repeats in the first month and rule-based repeats in the second month). To determine the usefulness of test repeats, differences between the initial and verified results were compared with the allowable bias, and repeat testing was considered necessary if it exceeded the allowable bias range. All causes of repeat testing, including linearity flags, delta checks, clinically significant values, and critical values, were also documented. All data, including the cause of repeats, initial and verified results, time, and costs in the two consecutive months, were transferred to Microsoft Excel for analysis. For comparison of data between the months, Student's t-test was used.

Results: A total of 7714 repeat tests were performed over two consecutive months. Although a significant decline (38%) was found in repeated tests in the second month (P < 0.001), there was no significant change in the percentage of unnecessary repeats (77% in the first month and 74% in the second month). In both consecutive months, AST and ALT were the most commonly repeated tests, and delta check was the most common cause of repeat testing. Mg, ALP, AST, and lipase showed the highest rates of necessary repeats, respectively (the least stable tests), while albumin, LDL, and CholT tests showed the highest rates of unnecessary repeats, respectively (the most stable tests). The total cost and delay in turnaround time (TAT) due to repeated testing decreased by 32% and 36%, respectively.

Conclusion: Although repeat testing has been shown to be unnecessary in most cases, having a strict policy for repeat testing appears to be more valuable than avoiding it completely. Each laboratory is advised to establish its own protocol for repeat testing based on its own practice.