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Analysis of Laboratory Critical Value Reporting at a Large Academic Medical Center

Anand S. Dighe MD, PhD, Arjun Rao MBBS, MBA, Amanda B. Coakley RN, PhD, Kent B. Lewandrowski MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/R53XVC2U5CH6TNG8 758-764 First published online: 1 May 2006


Reporting of laboratory critical values has become an issue of national attention as illustrated by recent guidelines described in the National Patient Safety Goals of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Herein, we report the results of an analysis of 37,503 consecutive laboratory critical values at our institution, a large urban academic medical center. We evaluated critical value reporting by test, laboratory specialty, patient type, clinical care area, time of day, and critical value limits. Factors leading to delays in critical value reporting are identified, and we describe approaches to improving this important operational and patient safety issue.

Key Words:
  • Informatics
  • Clinical pathology
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Management
  • Administration
  • Hematology
  • Patient safety
  • Critical value reporting