Quality Improvement in Critical Value Delivery at a Tertiary Care Center

Mark R. Hopkins, Monica R. Butcher, Kevin M. Martin, Lona R. Small, Lori J. Sokoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prompt notification of critical laboratory values to providers is essential for effective patient care. To improve the delivery of these critical values, a quality improvement project was initiated to determine the obstacles to prompt notification and to identify possible interventions to improve this process. Methods: Critical value call logs were retrieved, and delivery time, patient location, test name, and call time were abstracted and analyzed. All critical values with delivery times greater than 60 min were reviewed by 2 authors for 1 representative month in both the pre- and postintervention period. Results: Based on the results of the data review, a modification to the laboratory information system call center color-coded alerts was introduced to address delays attributable to the laboratory. The overall rate of calls greater than 60 min decreased from 3.4% ± 0.8% in the preintervention study period to 1.3 ± 0.3%, postintervention. The average number of values not delivered within 60 min decreased by 64% across all locations, following with an 82% decrease for values originating from inpatient locations, and a 39% decrease for outpatient values. Conclusions: Low complexity interventions to critical value callback protocols can significantly increase the efficacy of communication between the laboratory and providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-991
Number of pages7
JournalThe journal of applied laboratory medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • critical value
  • laboratory information system
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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