Traceability within the Laboratory

19th January 2018 - Fine Cut
It is said that more than 800 million test samples travel through the NHS domain during a 12-month period, imagine the chaos that would be generated if the traceability of this vast volume of test data was to become compromised and labels were to become illegible or the labels fell off the tube.

Inconceivable you may think but in todays environment where Quality driven requirements is a must, it is more important than ever to know that the method that you are using is “locked down” and sample integrity is maintained even through the most testing environments.

Imagine the scenario, you have a freezer full of test samples, weeks of research work all correctly labelled and sitting in a nice rack, or patient samples awaiting testing then you go to remove the samples for further investigation and the data smudges, the sample then becomes illegible, what would result, how would you scan the data or read the sample information, would you manage the situation if this was to happen? 

For this to be preventable do you review your labelling techniques and make sure that the process adopted is providing the level of durability that will survive handling, and do you ensure that the sample will be ok for multiple freeze thaw cycles, where each scan of the barcode or 2D matrix code needs to be as good as the first scan. Essential qualities for a label within this environment, don’t you think? This label needs to be more than just any standard paper label, it needs to be a specialist laboratory label formulated for use in extreme cold, moisture and resistance to solvents and excessive handling.

Medicine is undergoing its own transformation and with a growing and ageing population it has brought its own excess and demand for more interaction with the NHS and to meet the demand it is imperative that an efficient Laboratory works effectively when considering the range of label methods available.

Unlabelled or spoilt specimens create extra work and further investigation is required to review any problems wasting precious time and resources and in some instances involving senior management to decide on the processing method. This all adds up to the inevitable delays in processing and patients are left even longer than normal awaiting results. Choosing and managing the labelling aspect of this process is of paramount importance and should be a considered and careful decision to ensure the success of all labelling with the laboratory environment. 
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