To learn about the impact of preanalytical variables on point-of-care (POCT) critical care testing and how to improve sample quality of POC tests, sign up for AACC’s webinar, “Impact of Preanalytical Variables on Critical Care Point of Care Testing.”

Hosted by John Toffaletti, PhD, DABCC, professor of pathology at Duke University Health System in Durham, North Carolina, the webinar on March 28 will feature guest speaker Kenneth Blick, PhD, professor of pathology at Oklahoma University Medical Center, Oklahoma City. 

Participants will get a tutorial on improving test result quality through proper handling of samples and receive tips for improving sample quality when measuring a variety of substances such as blood gasses, sodium, potassium, ionized calcium, lactate, and co-oximetry. 

Mistakes or collection problems are some of the most commonly seen pre-analytical variables in critical care POCT, Toffaletti told CLN Stat. Examples of this may include contamination of the specimen with an IV fluid, a wrong collection tube, or an insufficient fill volume. 

“Also, several collection and transport processes can cause hemolysis and possibly clots in the specimen,” Toffaletti said. 

Many critical care analytes are rapidly affected by metabolism in the collected sample, Blick told CLN Stat. “Hence, POC testing has the significant advantage that testing can and should take place immediately—thus minimizing metabolic changes in the sample.” 

Transporting samples for blood gas and electrolyte analysis to the central core laboratory invariably leads to delays in analysis. For this reason, Blick said he prefers that routine blood gas testing in particular is performed in real-time in patient care areas or bedside. 

According to Toffaletti, continuing education—which is the purpose of competency training and documentation—is the key to improving sample quality for critical care POCTs such as electrolytes and blood gasses. 

“As we almost certainly know, this is much easier said than doing it effectively. However, if labs can first get caregivers to appreciate the problems that suboptimal collection techniques can cause with test results, caregivers are more likely to buy in to listening and following the proper procedures,” Toffaletti offered. 

Oklahoma University Medical Center has more than 1,000 healthcare providers performing  POCT, and some of these individuals are relatively inexperienced in POCT and blood collection techniques, according to Blick. “Thus, for a successful POC testing program, we must provide a continuous education program whereby nurses and others performing this testing are well-versed in proper specimen collection and testing procedures.” This is why Oklahoma University Medical Center has three full-time registered technologists in its central core laboratory that help maintain the quality of its POCT program. 

Toffaletti and Blick expect that webinar participants will pick up some reminders or refreshers about the challenges of getting good specimens, whether it involves test ordering, specimen collection, and/or sample labeling. “I hope everyone will find a few specific bits of information useful in their practices,” Toffaletti said. 

Webinar attendees also will develop a deeper appreciation for the complexity involved in maintaining the accuracy of test results, Blick added. This is regardless of where a test is performed—at the POC or in the central core laboratory.  

Lab managers and technologists involved in POCT, POC coordinators who manage POCT programs, and laboratory directors are encouraged to attend this event. 

Register now for this informative, 1-hour webinar, “Impact of Preanalytical Variables on Critical Care Point of Care Testing” on March 28 and earn 1.0 ACCENT credits.