Four Common Mistakes Lab Techs Make
Did you ever wonder who was handling the huge influx of COVID-19 diagnostic tests during the pandemic that started in Spring 2020? Professional lab technicians were already busy performing an estimated 13 billion lab tests per year for a host of other illnesses and conditions when the global pandemic began. Although typically in the background of healthcare, lab techs and the work they do contribute to roughly two-thirds of all medical decisions. That makes the lab tech’s job an important one.
Like all human beings, lab techs make errors on occasion, despite safety and verification protocols. Laboratory practices are typically divided into three phases, and the majority of errors occur in the first and final phases. Published statistics on the error rates range widely from 0.1 percent to 3.0 percent, declining over the past several decades. Here are some common mistakes that lab techs make, both professionally and from an insurance perspective.
What are some mistakes lab techs make?
1. Common Pre-analytical Errors
This first phase results in the majority of laboratory errors, during patient assessment, entry of test or patient data, or specimen collection, treatment or transport. In order to prevent these quality-related, pre-analytical errors, lab techs should encourage the development of and adherence to clear written procedures, comprehensive professional training, automation where possible, and better communication across health care professionals.
2. Typical Analytical Errors
Once the patient specimen arrives, the analytical phase begins. Errors during this phase are less frequent but may involve improperly processing a specimen before analyzing it or introducing substances that may interfere with test results. It’s important for lab techs to establish and verify test method performance specifications. These can include sensitivity, accuracy, precision, specificity, and linearity, which are common areas for errors to occur.
3. Ordinary Post-analytical Errors
During the post-analytical testing phase, lab techs release results to providers, who are responsible for interpretation and making medical decisions. Although this phase is really outside the lab tech’s control, common errors include inappropriate use of results, critical result reporting, and transmission errors. Increasing the consensus on definitions and notifications of lab critical values as well as automated notification systems are ways to reduce the error rate in this phase.
4. Lack of COVID Lab Insurance
Professional lab technicians should talk with their employer about what insurance is available to them as employees. With so many contract agreements today, it’s likely that lab techs should carry their own medical lab insurance. Professional liability insurance can protect lab techs against malpractice claims filed against them, resulting from incidents that may occur during daily job duties.
The laboratory as a facility will need professional liability to cover employees, as well as general liability insurance to protect it from costs associated with bodily injuries or property damage that occur onsite. Medical expenses and legal fees are included and can help shield a lab from the financial repercussions from a legal action.
Professional liability insurance, on the other hand, protects lab techs against claims regarding individual negligence and errors. Affected patients, for example, could file a suit claiming a lab tech has caused them financial hardship due to a mistake or omission. Both types of coverage are important to ensure coverage for the majority of claims that could arise for a lab processing Covid tests.
With new variants continuing to develop, COVID-19 is here to stay. Lab techs and labs will be an important part of the ongoing healthcare system to help medical providers test and diagnose ongoing cases. As a result, it’s important that they are aware of common mistakes that happen in a lab and play a role in minimizing those errors on a daily basis. At the same time, lab techs should be sure they are securing COVID lab insurance as a primary or supplementary protection against potential legal allegations.
These precautions can help lab techs better protect their jobs and personal lives as well as improve the quality and care they deliver to those in the communities they serve.
NOW Insurance has policies that are simple, fast and affordable for laboratories, lab technicians and all types of healthcare professionals and facilities. Get a fast quote today with our easy online application in under 3 minutes.
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