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To Err is Human Revisited: The Lab Goes Under the Microscope

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will soon publish (on September 22, 2015) another follow-up to their 1999 report, “To Err is Human.” This new report will include an examination of diagnostic errors, their etiology and their prevention. With more than 1000 deaths and 10,000 serious preventable adverse events occurring per day, combined with the more than $1 trillion dollars lost annually attributed to these errors, healthcare leaders must commit every day to better and safer care – and deliver.

The CDC reports that laboratories play a critical role in healthcare with lab data representing 60% of the medical record and informing 60-70% of medical decisions. As clinical processes become more complex, the number of preventable adverse events seem to increase; because of this, the laboratory will receive a new level of scrutiny in its processes, accuracy and output as it relates to the accuracy or timeliness of a patient diagnosis and/or treatment. Technology is one way to bridge the gap between human error and zero errors, greatly improving patient safety when used correctly. Errors in specimen and transfusion management are costly, endanger patients, decrease reimbursement, can damage a hospital’s reputation, and yet, they are 100 percent preventable.

This article was published September 21, 2015 by Becker’s Hospital Review. To read the full article visit

JoAnne Scalise

MANAGER, NURSE CONSULTING, SUNQUEST INFORMATION SYSTEMS. JoAnne Scalise is personally and professionally committed to patient safety and clinical excellence. In her role as Sunquest’s manager of the nurse consultant team, she ensures that patient safety, nursing workflow and care excellence –as well as nurse and clinician safety – are always at the core of all Sunquest specimen and transfusion management solutions. She has extensive experience in adult and neonatal critical care, patient safety, quality, and nursing leadership at the national level. JoAnne has presented nationally on patient safety, clinical adoption of health IT, quality, leadership, program development and effective communication, and received her MS in patient safety leadership from University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.