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Steps to Improve Lab Labeling

vial-labelAre you using barcoding in your healthcare lab? If not, you should. There are a number of good reasons why barcoded labels are the best method for identifying that important specimen, and why barcoding is commonplace in successful laboratories.

Your labels contain critical information about the sample it is put on. If you or someone else can’t read that label, or if the label is lost or damaged, then the testing is unreliable and useless, and you’ve wasted time and money.

Putting a barcode system in place doesn’t need to be a complex task. In fact, it can be quite simple to print labels right in your lab. It’s all about ridding your lab of the errors that create waste by putting in place some simple identification processes.

What are the problems that efficient barcode labels can fix? Here are three:

Unreadable Labels – Handwritten identification is unreliable, and sometimes unreadable, on a sample. The ink can smudge when it comes in contact with solvents or fluids, making the sample hard to identify. If the labels are small, then it’s impossible to write all the necessary information by hand neatly. Handwritten data can also contain transposition errors, especially when numbers are used as an identification method, or they are simply misread by a busy technician.

Printed labels, whether they contain barcodes, text, or both, fix these problems. Print quality is much improved and reliable, so transcription errors are reduced and there is no need for someone to interpret the information because of difficulty reading the handwriting.

Using the Wrong Label  Labels come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You can find labels that are coated to protect the data from abrasions. You have choices of adhesives to make the label temporary or permanent. For a barcode system to work, you need the label that is going to work in your environment. Some factors to think about:

  • How is the label handled and applied?
  • How long does the label need to last?
  • Are samples color-coded or require clear labels?
  • What environmental factors affect the label?
  • What is the label going to be used on?

With the variety of label material, ribbons, and adhesives available today, there is a label that can be made to withstand the elements and processes in your lab.

Wasted Time – Productivity improves when the lab’s workflow is efficient. If technicians are walking around the lab with labels looking for the correct specimen to mark, or result data is collected and typed into a database for interpretation or publication, then work slows down and errors can be introduced.

A better approach would be to have a printer that can print the label on demand right when it is applied to the specimen. Following analysis, barcode data can be automatically captured, read, and shared.

Any process that can be automated with barcoding improves productivity.

Whether you want to start efficient labeling, or need a complete identification and tracking system, we have the products and services to help you. Contact us for more information on how some small changes in your lab can result in big gains.


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