Preanalytical errors introduced by sample-transportation systems: a means to assess them

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Author: Robin A. Felder
Date: Oct. 2011
From: Clinical Chemistry(Vol. 57, Issue 10)
Publisher: American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 938 words
Lexile Measure: 1490L

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Sample transportation is one of the major factors contributing to delays in returning high-quality clinical laboratory results to the patient bedside. Furthermore, sample quality can be compromised by exposure to extremes of temperature and physical forces during transportation. Uncontrolled temperature-induced errors are well understood and are often prevented by using environmentally controlled transportation containers. The effects of excessive physical forces applied to medical samples are poorly understood, however. For example, pneumatic tubes are in widespread use for transporting medical samples to the laboratory, because they substantially reduce turnaround times (1) and are a less expensive alternative to creating satellite laboratories (2). While in transit in pneumatic tubes, samples are subjected to roller coaster-type rapid accelerations during "takeoff," radial gravitational forces when turning sharp corners, and sudden decelerations when arriving at their destination. These harsh physical forces have long been thought to contribute to preanalytical errors, owing to stress to or even rupture of plasma membranes of erythrocytes and lymphocytes (3-6). Although these previous studies have demonstrated aberrant analytical results due to pneumatic transportation, they have not measured causative factors directly. Recent technological advancements have made it possible to measure the environmental factors that influence medical samples while en route to the laboratory in a pneumatic tube carrier.

In a study reported in this issue of Clinical Chemistry, Streichert et al. (7) used small recording accelerometers to capture temporal environmental data and correlate it with...

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