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Postanalytic Phase

The postanalytic phase includes all the processes after test analysis. Recently, significant attention has been focused on errors made during the postanalytic phase of laboratory testing and the impact errors made during this phase have on laboratory-related patient outcomes. Similar to the preanalytic phase, the postanalytic phase can be subdivided into those procedures that are within the laboratory, and those outside the laboratory; where the physician receives, interprets, and acts on the laboratory results. The examples listed below are limited to possible postanalytic errors that may occur within the laboratory and over which the laboratory has more control:

  • Laboratory results not verified before being reported
  • Improper data entry or typing mistakes causing erroneous information to be reported
  • Critical values not reported, or not reported in a timely manner
  • Laboratory tests not reported or reported to the wrong health provider (for example, poor communication to a patient's physician of the results of laboratory tests that are pending at the time of a patient's discharge)
  • Lack of timeliness of reporting laboratory results (slow turnaround time)
  • Misinterpretation of an alphabetic flag in the result field (i.e. lower case "l" interpreted as the number "1"
  • Oral results misunderstood by receiving party- no "read back" requested to confirm that data was correctly received