Preventing Problems, Medical Errors, and Biohazards in Point-of-Care Testing: Using Complex Adaptive Systems to Improve Outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The goals of point-of-care testing (POCT) are to shift empiric judgment to evidence-based decision making through rapid response testing and, simultaneously, to improve patient outcomes. The POCT paradigm will continue to grow and provide flexible solutions if it does not create unwanted problems, errors, or biohazards that impede its progress. Although POCT eliminates inefficiencies, it may suffer from unique preanalytic, analytic, and postanalytic errors that result when human operators perform tests at the bedside. Preventing errors and their translation into serious accidents that harm patients will help improve medical and economic outcomes. POCT programs benefit by implementing security (personal identification number and password), validation (nonvalidated and noncertified operator lockout), performance (quality control and data transfer), and emergency and safeguard features customized for individual critical care, hospital, and clinic settings. The arrival of a new journal, a major text, and geoeconomic expansion signals a bright future for POCT and challenges leadership vision. The standard of care for POCT continually evolves, as illustrated by new demands for improved accuracy and precision in glucose testing. Industry partnering with physicians can meet these challenges while recognizing that POCT instruments and programs are maturing as complex adaptive systems. An understanding of how these systems behave and achieve their highest potential in evidence-based medicine and outcomes optimization will help POC directors, coordinators, and researchers fulfill the shared mission of safe, efficient, efficacious, economic, and equitable patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-88
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic Surgical Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Blood-gas
  • Cardiac markers
  • Coagulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Medical–Surgical
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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