Sample integrity is critical to the safety of clinical laboratory services. If there is a problem with the sample, then test results are meaningless. Each time there is a problem with specimen integrity, patients experience wasted time in addition to anxiety and loss of faith in the expertise of the phlebotomy staff. Patients may also experience harm, if harm is defined as delay in diagnosis, therapy, hospital admission or discharge.
Threats to sample integrity include:
- Collection of a sample from the wrong patient
- Collection of the wrong blood sample (eg, a blue top tube when a green top is needed)
- Missed venipuncture (multiple attempts)
- Multiple venipunctures due to improper or inadequate sample collected
- Mislabeled and unlabeled samples
- Improperly performed venipuncture or skin puncture