RFID tags minimize specimen labeling errors

| October 9, 2008

A colleague of mine in pathology and clinical colleagues in the gastroenterology divison at Mayo have reported their experience with RFID tags for GI biopsy specimens in a high volume practice.  The news was picked up on several sites including US News and World Report.  Comments from the clinical champions of the project and a review of their experience is below.  This will also be discussed at the upcoming APIII meeting in a few weeks.

"The Gastroenterology and Colorectal Surgery outpatient endoscopy unit at our facility yields over 30,000 specimen bottles that are sent for pathologic review every year," study author Dr. Dawn Francis, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, said in a clinic news release. "Over the past several years, Mayo Clinic identified some issues with mislabeling of tissue specimens in the units. Most labeling errors have been due to either the wrong patient label or no label being affixed to a specimen bottle. As a result, a quality improvement initiative was created to reduce the number of specimen-labeling errors."

Mayo Clinic researchers drew their conclusions in a review of specimen-labeling errors at their facility in three months before and after the implementation of RFID specimen labeling there. Prior to the new system, 765 errors occurred out of 8,231 specimen bottles sent to the pathology laboratory for evaluation. The error total plummeted, to 47 out of 8,539 bottles, after the RFID plan was instituted.

"It appears that this quality initiative, with emphasis on correct data creation and transcription point reduction, has the potential to significantly improve our clinical practice," said Dr. Schuyler Sanderson, the pathologist involved in the research.


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