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Clin Biochem. 2012 Sep;45(13-14):979-87. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2012.06.023. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Effectiveness of automated notification and customer service call centers for timely and accurate reporting of critical values: a laboratory medicine best practices systematic review and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, USA.



To conduct a systematic review of the evidence available in support of automated notification methods and call centers and to acknowledge other considerations in making evidence-based recommendations for best practices in improving the timeliness and accuracy of critical value reporting.


This review followed the Laboratory Medicine Best Practices (LMBP) review methods (Christenson, et al. 2011). A broad literature search and call for unpublished submissions returned 196 bibliographic records which were screened for eligibility. 41 studies were retrieved. Of these, 4 contained credible evidence for the timeliness and accuracy of automatic notification systems and 5 provided credible evidence for call centers for communicating critical value information in in-patient care settings.


Studies reporting improvement from implementing automated notification findings report mean differences and were standardized using the standard difference in means (d=0.42; 95% CI=0.2-0.62) while studies reporting improvement from implementing call centers generally reported criterion referenced findings and were standardized using odds ratios (OR=22.1; 95% CI=17.1-28.6).


The evidence, although suggestive, is not sufficient to make an LMBP recommendation for or against using automated notification systems as a best practice to improve the timeliness of critical value reporting in an in-patient care setting. Call centers, however, are effective in improving the timeliness of critical value reporting in an in-patient care setting, and meet LMBP criteria to be recommended as an "evidence-based best practice."

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

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