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Clin Biochem. 2012 Sep;45(13-14):988-98. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2012.06.019. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Effectiveness of barcoding for reducing patient specimen and laboratory testing identification errors: a Laboratory Medicine Best Practices systematic review and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Century Plaza 1, 2987 Clairmont Road, NE - Suite 450, Atlanta, GA 30329‐4448, USA.



This is the first systematic review of the effectiveness of barcoding practices for reducing patient specimen and laboratory testing identification errors.


The CDC-funded Laboratory Medicine Best Practices Initiative systematic review methods for quality improvement practices were used.


A total of 17 observational studies reporting on barcoding systems are included in the body of evidence; 10 for patient specimens and 7 for point-of-care testing. All 17 studies favored barcoding, with meta-analysis mean odds ratios for barcoding systems of 4.39 (95% CI: 3.05-6.32) and for point-of-care testing of 5.93 (95% CI: 5.28-6.67).


Barcoding is effective for reducing patient specimen and laboratory testing identification errors in diverse hospital settings and is recommended as an evidence-based "best practice." The overall strength of evidence rating is high and the effect size rating is substantial. Unpublished studies made an important contribution comprising almost half of the body of evidence.

Copyright © 2012 The Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists. All rights reserved.

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