BACKGROUND: There are limited data on lactate stability in whole blood. The purpose of this study was to determine whole blood lactate stability at room temperature and in slushed ice conditions. METHODS: An equal number of arterial and venous samples were obtained from 202 subjects hospitalized for various pathophysiological conditions. Whole blood lactate concentration was measured over 5 different times spanning 80-90 min in a blood gas lab at a major hospital center. Samples were stored at room temperature (22-24°C) or in slushed ice conditions (0.1-0.2°C) before analysis. RESULTS: The mean increase in lactate concentration was 0.001 mmol/L/min in samples on slushed ice over 90 min. However, at room temperature conditions, the mean increase in lactate concentration was 0.008 mmol/L/min regardless of whether the sample was arterial or venous. An increase in whole blood lactate concentration of ≥ 0.4 mmol/L occured after 45 min at room temperature, with 5% of all whole blood specimens demonstrating a meaningful change at ≤ 20 min. The ≥ 0.4 mmol/L change in whole blood lactate is considered significant based on the College of American Pathologists instrument peer-group standards. CONCLUSIONS: Considering that a change in whole blood lactate concentration of ≥ 0.4 mmol/L is unacceptable instrument peer-group variation as defined by the College of American Pathologists, ice is no longer needed to stabilize whole blood lactate specimens when the draw time to analyze time is < 45 min. Samples remain stable even at 90 min when left on ice.
- critically ill
- lactic acid
- meaningful change
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine