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Rev Med Chil. 2009 Sep;137(9):1137-44. doi: /S0034-98872009000900001.

[Laboratory alert value reporting by the clinical laboratory at an academic medical network].

[Article in Spanish]

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Departamento de Laboratorios Clínicos, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.



An alert value is a result suggesting that the patient is at imminent danger unless appropriate remedial actions begin promptly. Report of alert values (AV) by the clinical laboratories has taken special relevance in recent years due to its contribution to patient's care.


To report results of AV informed during 2007 within the Health Network of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.


Analysis of AV recorded in a centralized database of the laboratories of the health network, between January and December, 2007.


Total number of AV was 5.366, which represented 0.3% of total examinations and corresponded mainly to the clinical chemistry area. Potassium levels generated the higher number of AV detected, followed by positive blood cultures. Eighty two percent of AV corresponded to hospitalized patients. The greater number of AV was reported to intermediate and intensive care services. Thirty two percent of AV was informed to the physician or professional in charge of the patient within 5 minutes of obtaining the results and 79% within 30 minutes.


To obtain a real impact on patient management, it is fundamental to shorten the lapse between the obtainment of tests results and the warning, supported on appropriate computerized systems, and to spread the procedure to all personnel involved in patient's care.

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