May 04, 2016

Quality Control in Veterinary Diagnostic Testing

A review recently published in The Veterinary Journal discusses ways to minimize errors in veterinary diagnostic testing, both with tests run in-house and those sent to diagnostic laboratories.
By Laurie Anne Walden, DVM, ELS

Analytic phase 

The analytic phase is the actual sample analysis. Errors during this phase are associated with the diagnostic equipment (or personnel performing manual tests) and can be caused by the following:
  • Expired reagents
  • Deterioration of equipment
  • Extrapolation of tests from one species to another
  • Presence of precipitate or contaminants in stains
  • Improper microscope maintenance
  • Human error (for example, incorrect interpretation of blood smears or fecal samples)
  • Failure to perform proper maintenance and quality control of in-house analyzers
  • Improper storage of urine dipsticks (allowing exposure to moisture or light)
  • Improper handling of urine dipsticks (dipping them vertically into a sample rather than keeping them horizontal)
  • Failure to account for factors like cleaning solutions that can influence results  
Bleach and other cleaning products can cause a false-positive reaction for blood on a urine dipstick. Therefore, urine collected from a recently cleaned floor or even pipetted onto a dipstick set down on a recently cleaned counter could yield a false-positive result for blood. 

Postanalytic phase 

The postanalytic phase occurs after sample testing. These errors involve data handling:
  • Incorrect data entry (entering the wrong numbers)
  • Assigning results to the wrong patient
  • Loss of data

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