Preventing medical errors in point-of-care testing: Security, validation, performance, safeguards, and connectivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objective. To prevent medical errors, improve user performance, and enhance the quality, safety, and connectivity (bidirectional communication) of point-of-care testing. Participants. Group A included 37 multidisciplinary experts in point-of-care testing programs in critical care and other hospital disciplines. Group B included 175 professional point-of-care managers, specialists, clinicians, and researchers. The total number of participants equaled 212. Evidence. This study followed a systems approach. Expert specifications for prevention of medical errors were incorporated into the designs of security, validation, performance, and emergency systems. Additional safeguards need to be implemented through instrument software options and point-of-care coordinators. Connectivity will be facilitated by standards that eliminate deficiencies in instrument communication and device compatibility. Assessment of control features on handheld, portable, and transportable point-of-care instruments shows that current error reduction features lag behind needs. Consensus Process. Step 1: United States national survey and collation of group A expert requirements for security, validation, and performance. Step 2: Design of parallel systems for these functions. Step 3: Written critique and improvement of the error-prevention systems during 4 successive presentations to group B participants over 9 months until system designs stabilized into final consensus form. Conclusions. The consensus process produced 6 conclusions for preventing medical errors in point-of-care testing: (1) adopt operator certification and validation in point-of-care testing programs; (2) implement security, validation, performance, and emergency systems on existing and new devices; (3) require flexible, user-defined error-prevention system options on instruments as a prerequisite to federal licensing of new diagnostic tests and devices; (4) integrate connectivity standards for bidirectional information exchange; (5) preserve fast therapeutic turnaround time of point-of-care test results; and (6) monitor invalid use, operator competence, quality compliance, and other performance improvement indices to reduce errors, thereby focusing on patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1307-1315
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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