Lab investigations are essential in patient management and qualities of the tests reports are emphasized. But there is another aspect of quality which is often overlooked and that is timeliness which is expressed as turnaround time (TAT). Mostly the laboratory services are directed at providing a rapid, reliable report at a reasonable cost. However, most laboratories put undue stress on only reliability, where as the clinician gives more stress on how soon (TAT) a report would be available to them. There is no clear definition of TAT, as to which period should be included in determining TAT for a specific test. For laboratory personnel, it would be from the time of receipt of sample in laboratory till report is generated. However, for a clinician, it would appropriate from the time of his/her requisition of a test till the report reaches him/her. The TAT would not be similar for routine tests versus in STAT/urgent tests. TAT would be different for ICU/emergency services. The causes of poor satisfaction level from lab users includes stat and routine test TAT and stat test TAT is considered by majority as the most important indicator of laboratories functioning. Hospital computerization with record of time from test request, sample collection, report generation and receipt of report by clinician would help in generating TAT. Analyzing outliers in TAT in a lab gives insight of causes delay in TAT and the areas need improvement. Laboratories in developing countries are yet to use TAT and analyze them for laboratory improvement.
Turnaround time (TAT) Therapeutic TAT Laboratory TAT
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Bergman B, Klefsjo B (1994) Quality: from customer needs to customer satisfaction, 1st edn. McGraw-Hill, MaidenheadGoogle Scholar
Watts NB (1995) Reproducibility (precision) in alternate site testing. A clinician’s perspective. Arch Pathol Lab Med 119:914–917PubMedGoogle Scholar
Howanitz JH, Howanitz PJ (2001) Laboratory results. Timeliness as a quality attribute and strategy. Am J Clin Pathol 116:311–315PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Howanitz PJ, Cembrowski GS, Steindel SJ, Long TA (1993) Physician goals and laboratory test turnaround times. A College of American Pathologists Q-Probes study of 2763 clinicians and 722 institutions. Arch Pathol Lab Med 117:22–28PubMedGoogle Scholar
Steindel SJ, Howanitz PJ (2001) Physician satisfaction and emergency department laboratory test turnaround time. Arch Pathol Lab Med 125:863–871PubMedGoogle Scholar
Parvin CA, Lo SF, Deuser SM, Weaver LG, Lewis LM, Scott MG (1996) Impact of point-of-care testing on patients’ length of stay in a large emergency department. Clin Chem 42:711–717PubMedGoogle Scholar
Jones BA, Walsh MK, Ruby SG (2006) Hospital nursing satisfaction with clinical laboratory services: a College of American Pathologists Q-Probes study of 162 institutions. Arch Pathol Lab Med 130:1756–1761PubMedGoogle Scholar
Jones BA, Bekeris LG, Nakhleh RE, Walsh MK, Valenstein PN (2009) Physician satisfaction with clinical laboratory services: a College of American Pathologists Q-Probes study of 138 institutions. Arch Pathol Lab Med 133:38–43PubMedGoogle Scholar
Valenstein P, Walsh M (2003) Five-year follow-up of routine outpatient test turnaround time: a College of American Pathologists Q-PROBES study. Arch Pathol Lab Med 127:1421–1423PubMedGoogle Scholar
Steindel SJ, Novis DA (1999) Using outlier events to monitor test turnaround time a College of American Pathologists Q-Probes study in 496 laboratories. Arch Pathol Lab Med 123:607–614PubMedGoogle Scholar
Westbrook JI, Georgiou A, Lam M (2009) Does computerised provider order entry reduce test turnaround times. A before-and-after study at four hospitals. Stud Health Technol Inform 150:527–531PubMedGoogle Scholar