Most phlebotomists spend a great deal of their day on the move, from patient to patient. With each new patient comes a sample or a collection of specimens. The importance of labeling each one with the correct information that ties that sample to the correct patient, on a specific date/time, has no room for error. The results can be harmful, even deadly.
Having been in the hospital(s) as an inpatient, and outpatient, I pay attention to the ways a healthcare facility keeps track of patient information and samples. I can honestly say I haven’t seen a handwritten label used for patient ID in a long time. I do, however, see phlebotomists traveling from patient to patient carrying sheets of pre-printed labels looking for the one that matches my name and DOB. I will always ask to see the label they will apply to my samples. Knowing what can happen when a small mistake, even if a single number is off, causes me to confirm that the label is meant for my sample(s).
When the phlebotomist approaches with a barcode scanner, reads my wristband and asks me to confirm my name and DOB, I relax that much more knowing they have an identification process in place.
The more time and distance between when labels are produced and when they are applied, the greater the chance they will be put on the wrong sample or lost. When the labels are printed at my bedside and immediately applied to the samples drawn, I know the lab will track MY sample back to ME.
Using barcodes with the right mobile printer for printing labels on-demand and scanners for verification make the identification process more efficient and drastically reduces the chance for errors.
Does the phlebotomist in your facility use labels printed on-demand? Can they change to STAT labels to draw attention to the samples that require priority processing? Do they loose valuable time going back to the lab for labels when orders change, or new orders are added?
Want to know more? See WincoID on the web. If you would like to implement a mobile, positive identification system for your phlebotomy or lab departments, give WincoID a call at 603-598-1553, X237.