Testing Risk


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In the old days, medical personnel sent test samples to laboratories and awaited the results. But technology has increased the use of point-of-care testing, with results rapidly available at a patient’s bedside.

This means administrators and managers must embrace a risk management perspective, according to the journal Point of Care: The Journal of Near-Patient Testing & Technology. Since these tests are more prone to certain errors than traditional medical tests, the journal highlights the need for systematic approaches to patient safety, including patient identification, timely results, system alerts and operator training.

Problems recently highlighted include the case where a busy technician omitted routine control checks on point-of-care testing equipment, which generated reports that suggested a system malfunction. Although some new testing equipment features built-in quality checks, there are few formal guidelines for point-of-care testing. Researchers have found a nearly 2 percent rate of inaccurately identifying patients while doing routine point-of-care blood tests. In addition, errors of omission are possible when healthcare professionals aren’t available to respond to abnormal tests.