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Introduction: The majority of laboratory testing errors occur in the pre-analytical stage, including specimen collection. Children provide special challenges including small blood volumes, small veins, and an inability to cooperate. We describe collaboration between laboratorians and nursing staff to improve specimen collection and the reliability of test results.

Methods: We identified three areas for improvement: 1) Volume of blood for culture, 2) Urine collection, and 3) Appropriate blood collection through a line. Base line data was established. Guidelines for specimen collection were updated. Nurse members of the Laboratory Utilization Committee developed educational tools.

Results: Nursing education was effective at improving collection of blood for culture and IV fluid contamination of blood specimens, processes where the nurse was the collector. There was no improvement in the urine culture contamination rate, a process which involves the patient and/or family members.

Discussion: Nursing participation in laboratory utilization efforts provides an opportunity to address specimen collection issues. Nurses are also excellent resources concerning work flow in clinics and inpatient floors. They also actively participate in the education of young doctors.

MeSH Keywords

Blood Specimen Collection; Urine Specimen Collection; Specimen Handling; Nurses, Pediatric; Infant; Child


Lab specimens; Blood collection; Urine Collection; Nurses; Babies; Children


Other Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment | Pathology | Pediatric Nursing | Pediatrics

An Expanded Role for Nurses in Laboratory Utilization