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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Basics of Lean and Six Sigma for the Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Recommended Lean Processes: Waste Walk

In order to determine where there is waste, the Lean system recommends taking a waste walk. The table below lists the types of waste that were discussed on the previous page and questions that you might ask as your team proceeds through a waste walk. You will probably not be able to get rid of all waste, but you can continually find ways to reduce it.

Waste Category
Defect correction
Are you fixing errors in paperwork?
Are you unable to process items because of illegible handwriting, errors, or other causes?
Is the laboratory producing more reports than needed?
Is the laboratory printing, faxing, copying, and/or e-mailing more than is necessary?
Are more tests or services being ordered or performed than required by the customer (eg, clinical staff) or for the patient?
Excess motion
Are you frequently searching for paper documents in cabinets and drawers?
Are you regularly hand-carrying paperwork from one laboratory area to another, or one department to another?
Excess movement of materials
Do you constantly need to locate and move a piece of equipment?
Do you have temporary locations for supplies and equipment?
Is there too much dependency on others to complete a task before you can begin a task?
Are there delays in receiving information?
Do patients wait for long periods of time before receiving care?
Are files piling up?
Is the laboratory purchasing excessive supplies of any kind?
Are there obsolete items in the laboratory, eg, files, equipment, supplies, reagents?
Excess processing
Is the laboratory duplicating reports or information?
Are you doing more work than is required for a particular process?
Does the laboratory have unnecessary levels of authorization and approval?