Reducing Errors in Radiology Specimen Labeling Through Use of a Two-person Check

Michael Schwartz, Howard Osborn, Jennifer Palmieri, Bhavika Patel, Jonathan A. Flug

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Improper specimen labeling of biopsy samples can cause substantial harm to patients through diagnostic delays, administration of inappropriate treatments, and can result in a loss of trust in the healthcare system. Specimen labeling errors are considered a relevant safety metric in our department and tracked on a rolling basis. One imaging section was noted to have nearly completely eliminated these errors through implementation of a 2-person check prior to submission to pathology. The purpose of this intervention was to identify the causes of continued specimen labeling errors in radiology and to standardize the specimen labeling workflow across the department of radiology to include the best practice identified in breast imaging utilizing a 2-person check. Preintervention, 31 specimen labeling errors were reported by the procedural staff over a period of 149 weeks resulting in an error rate of 0.21 errors per week. Postintervention, 3 specimen labeling errors occurred in the next 46 weeks resulting in a rate of 0.07 errors per week, a 68.8% decrease in the specimen labeling error rate. This quality improvement project highlights the process flaws which contribute to medical errors and demonstrates a potential pathway to try and reduce these errors and patient harm without significant investment in capital or new technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-354
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Problems in Diagnostic Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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