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Education & Training

Compliance & Safety, Education & Training, General Information

Maintaining Specimen Integrity – Purple Priority Bags

purple priority bagSpectrum Health Regional Laboratory supplies purple priority bags for specimens that must be handled and processed immediately upon receipt in the laboratory. The purple color priority transport bag will be a visual cue to the receiving laboratory that the specimens inside the bag need to be handled or processed immediately at the time of arrival in the laboratory or the integrity of the specimen will be compromised.

Use these bags for transporting specimens to the laboratory when: Continue Reading

Compliance & Safety, Cytology, Education & Training

Appropriate Labeling of Specimens

Safety of our patient and quality of care are of utmost importance. For this reason we require specimens sent to the Spectrum Health Cytology Laboratory be labeled with at least two patient identifiers, (i.e., patient name, birth date and MRN.) We will no longer return to the collection site, unlabeled, mislabeled specimens lacking two patient identifiers or specimen containers with multiple different patient labels. These specimens will be discarded and repeat collection will be necessary.

Procedures to verify correct labeling of patient specimens at the time of collection are recommended.   Specimen containers should not be pre-labeled. Variation of the “time-out” procedure used in the hospital and surgical center setting is an excellent way of confirming that the specimen is correctly labeled. This can easily be achieved by having the patient verify his or her name and birth date, by reading the label placed on the specimen container at the time the specimen is collected. This “time out” should occur before the specimen leaves the examination or treatment room.

It is our mission to provide the best and safest care we can to our patients. We know that physicians and other practitioners are required to see patients more efficiently and at times with less than adequate time allowed. Following a “time out” procedure and not pre-labeling specimen containers will prevent errors that may lead to diagnoses being assigned to wrong patients, hence, unnecessary procedures and lack of follow-up for the appropriate patient.

Education & Training, Microbiology, Test Utilization

Influenza Diagnosis and Test Utilization

In anticipation of “Flu season”, it is valuable to revisit available testing methods for influenza and discuss when each test should be ordered. Though generally a self-limited infection for otherwise healthy individuals, influenza can be particularly severe for high-risk populations including infants, elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised hosts. Influenza incidence is largely seasonal with the majority of cases occurring between December and April of each year. Continue Reading

Chemistry, Education & Training, Test Utilization

Cardiac Marker Testing (Troponin)

Cardiac marker (Troponin) testing should only be ordered for Inpatient or Emergency Department patients. This test is not clinically appropriate for outpatient testing due to long outpatient test turnaround time (specimen collection to result). In cases of acute/urgent medical conditions, please have the patients evaluated at an Urgent Care center or the Emergency Department. Continue Reading

Compliance & Safety, Education & Training

Zero Tolerance Specimen Labeling

All specimens submitted to Spectrum Health Laboratory for testing must be appropriately labeled to assure positive identification and optimum integrity of specimens. In accordance with standards issued by The Joint Commission, at least 2 patient identifiers should be used when providing care or treatment of services (National Patient Safety Goal, NSPG.01.01.01). If 2 patient identifiers are not used on the specimen, the specimen will be rejected, the order will be cancelled and a request for recollection will be made. This includes Gyn Cytology (i.e. Pap) specimens.

What are acceptable Patient Identifiers?

  • Patient Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Spectrum Health Medical Record Number (MRN)

 

Education & Training, General Information

Summer Lockbox Preparation

Follow these steps for loading your outdoor lockbox during the summer months to prevent overheating of refrigerated and ambient specimens:lockbox summer

1. Place a frozen cool pack in the bottom of the lockbox.

2. Layer 3 – 4 paper towels over the cool pack for insulation.

3. Place refrigerated temperature specimens on top of the paper towels.

4. Layer 3 – 4 paper towels over the refrigerated specimens for insulation.

5. Place ambient temperature specimens on top of the paper towels.

Frozen specimen should not be left in the lockbox for after-hours pickup. These tests may be better preserved in the office freezer until the next day’s courier pickup.

Spectrum Health Laboratory is committed to specimen integrity. The specimen transport integrity guide is available in the online test catalog. If you have further questions please contact Laboratory Services at 616.774.5116.