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Clin Chim Acta. 2009 Jun;404(1):6-11. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2009.03.019. Epub 2009 Mar 18.

Laboratory safety and the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety.

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WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety, World Health Organisation, Geneva 27, Switzerland.


Laboratory medicine has been a pioneer in the field of patient safety; indeed, the College of American Pathology first called attention to the issue in 1946. Delivering reliable laboratory results has long been considered a priority, as the data produced in laboratory medicine have the potential to critically influence individual patients' diagnosis and management. Until recently, most attention on laboratory safety has focused on the analytic stage of laboratory medicine. Addressing this stage has led to significant and impressive improvements in the areas over which laboratories have direct control. However, recent data demonstrate that pre- and post-analytical phases are at least as vulnerable to errors; to further improve patient safety in laboratory medicine, attention must now be focused on the pre- and post-analytic phases, and the concept of patient safety as a multi-disciplinary, multi-stage and multi-system concept better understood. The World Alliance for Patient Safety (WAPS) supports improvement of patient safety globally and provides a potential framework for considering the total testing process.

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