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Understanding The Impact of Lost Specimens: Reasons and Financial Consequences

By April 4, 2023June 9th, 2023No Comments

A few years ago, the Southern Mutual Insurance Company provided an analysis of pathology closed claims resulting in monetary loss with a huge emphasis on specimen issues.  At a glance, it can appear to be a laboratory issue, but with a closer look transportation plays a significant role in the problem. 

As most labs experience the same issue to a particular degree, lost or damaged specimens come with the territory, on average 25 – 30 a month according to the University of Minnesota Medical Center.  Over time losing specimens in a lab can create an attitude of acceptance which can lead to more problems for the medical provider. 



SMIC analysis of lost specimens and the importance of reliable transportation.


Mitigating The Impact Of Lost Specimens

Understanding the factors behind specimen issues such as human error, inadequate labeling, miscommunication, improper storage, and transportation mishaps can help create solutions for the healthcare system from the collection and transportation to its destination.  Implementing standardized protocols for specimen couriers that emphasize handling, packaging, and labeling with quality control audits.   

  • Highlight the consequences of lost or mixed-up specimens including delayed diagnoses, compromised treatment plans, legal ramifications, and financial loss to healthcare providers. 
  • Provide guidelines for labeling and best practices, with a focus on leakproof containers, specimen-controlled packaging for sensitive specimens, and appropriate cushioning. 
  • Explain the concept of chain of custody and highlight the need for secure vehicles equipped with temperature-secured systems, when required to maintain the integrity of the specimen. 
  • Stress the importance of employee training, awareness, and accountability in preventing specimen loss and mix-ups. 
  • Maintain clear communication of documentation for each specimen.  This includes recording the transfer of specimens between different parties, such as collection sites, healthcare facilities, and laboratories. 

Key Consequences of Lost Specimens 

  • Delayed diagnoses and lost treatments with a specimen prevent healthcare professionals from diagnosing underlying medical conditions.  This can lead to ineffective treatment plans resulting in potential harm to a patient’s well-being. 
  • Lost specimens can disrupt ongoing patient care, and healthcare professionals may be unable to monitor the progression of the disease. 
  • Lost specimens can lead to financial losses for healthcare providers.  Repeat testing results in laboratory cost, resources, and staff time.  Healthcare providers may bear the burden of legal compensation from claims of patient care. 
  • Lost specimens lead to adverse patient outcomes which lead to legal implications.  Healthcare providers may face malpractice claims, and lawsuits due to compromise patient care. 

Consider Send It Same Day Delivery as a Medical Courier 

If your current service by a courier service who do not have standard practices in place, you find missing specimens are costing your labs money, you should consider evaluating your courier management and if it’s helpful or harmful.  Send It Same Day Delivery (SISD) service is a reliable and trustworthy company with an efficient system design to impact the laboratory field and minimize the associated cost of lost specimens. 

SISD technology uses a cloud base system to capture specimen pick-up and delivery times, signatures, location, and specimen data.  SISD allows labs and healthcare providers to manage data, retrieve records, pick-up times, and courier performance. 

This forward-thinking approach not only contributes to a sustainable lab environment but also ensures enhanced accuracy and traceability throughout the transportation process, counting the cost of lost specimens is the best way for selecting the correct specimen courier. 

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