Clinical laboratory professionals have been measuring and reporting turnaround times for decades. This has been valuable because tests have different levels of importance with respect to timeliness given a patient's clinical situation or the nature of the specimen. However, we do not have a standard definition of how to measure turnaround time. Is turnaround time defined as the time from when the clinician orders the laboratory test to the time when the clinician takes action on the test results? Or is it the time from when the sample is collected to the time the laboratory test result is reported to the clinician? Or is it something else?
A true measure of turnaround time would be from the time that the clinician orders the laboratory test until the time the clinician takes action on the test results. If clinical laboratory professionals are to improve the quality of health care by improving the quality of clinical laboratory services, determining the timeliness of action upon our services is an appropriate indicator to monitor.
One method to calculate this would require auditing the medical records of a specified number of abnormal test results.