ASCLS has a long history of supporting the role of Medical Laboratory Professionals (defined for the purposes of this paper as Medical Laboratory Scientists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Clinical Laboratory Assistants and Phlebotomists) in improving patient care, by promoting improvements in the delivery of laboratory testing services, enhancing educational requirements for Medical Laboratory Professionals, and identifying advanced practice opportunities for the profession. The next step in improving patient care is to fully integrate patient safety concepts and competencies into clinical laboratory science practice. The most recent effort is an easily sharable video for patients to promote communication with lab professionals collecting blood specimens.

Blood Specimen Collection - Patient Safety Series

Here are some additional resources:

Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare Institute for Quality Improvement: Overview of basic concepts on Quality Improvement.

ACT for Better Diagnosis: More than 40 of the most prominent healthcare and patient advocacy organizations joined together to form the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis and launched ACT for Better DiagnosisTM. Site contains educational information on diagnostic error with specific resources for patients and providers.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans (formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research). Information for consumers and patients, as well as healthcare professionals. Includes funding opportunities.

American Society of Quality: A broad variety of quality resources, some of which require payment or membership.

Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality – Johns Hopkins Medicine:  The Armstrong Institute’s goal is to eliminate preventable harm to patients and to achieve the best patient outcomes at the lowest cost possible, and then to share knowledge of how to achieve this goal with the world.

Baldrige Quality Improvement Tools (offered through NIST):  Several tools and educational information are offered from the well-known Baldrige Quality Program.

British Medical Journal Quality and Safety:  BMJ Quality & Safety provides a rich mix of news, opinion, debate and research for academics, clinicians, healthcare managers and policy makers. It encourages the science of improvement, debate, and new thinking on improving the quality of healthcare.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Recognized as the lead federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people – at home and broad, providing credible information to enhance health decisions, and promoting health through strong partnerships. CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.

Center for Phlebotomy Education: Website dedicated to providing educational materials and resources to those who perform, teach, or supervise blood specimen collection procedures. Includes online CE, products for purchase, literature references, subscription services, phlebotomy certification information and free eNewsletter.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid: Main Medicare/Medicaid web site. CMS has an increasing focus on clinical outcomes and quality of care.

Choosing Wisely:  An initiative of the ABIM Foundation that seeks to advance a national dialogue on avoiding unnecessary medical tests, treatments and procedures.

Consumers Advancing Patient Safety (CAPS): A consumer-led nonprofit organization formed to be a collective voice for individuals, families and healers who wish to prevent harm in healthcare encounters through
partnership and collaboration. CAPS envisions a partnership between consumers and providers to create global healthcare systems that are safe, compassionate and just. The website has links to tools; this link is to a transitions tool entitled Taking Charge of Your Healthcare: Your Path to Being an Empowered Patient.

Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement: ICSI is a non-profit organization that brings together diverse groups from Minnesota and Wisconsin to transform the health care system to deliver patient-centered and value- driven care. The website includes practice guidelines, patient education materials, and information on ICSI initiatives.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement: The Institute for Health Improvement has multiple quality initiatives.

Joint Commission Laboratory National Patient Safety Goals: Details the rationale and performance expectations for the Laboratory National Patient Safety Goals.

Journal of American Medical Association:  JAMANetwork contains many open access articles relating to patient safety in medicine.

Josie King Foundation: Resource Center with books, articles, web sites with patient safety information, including an on-line discussion group

The Leapfrog Group: The Leapfrog Group is a voluntary program which works with employer members to encourage transparency and easy access to health care information as well as rewards for hospitals that have a proven record of high quality care. Includes hospital rating data, searchable by state.

Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors: A public website that lists NEWS articles for a patient safety concerns. Several Initiatives have been undertaken to review concerns for patient safety, i.e. Reducing
Medication Errors in a variety of settings; giving anticoagulant therapy, medication in Ambulatory Settings, medications in Acute Care facilities, etc., other initiatives include Reporting Requirements, Educational Programs, Defining Accountability of Patient Safety and more. There is an online resource, “Consumer Guide to Medications” for the general public. This site received the Leaders in Quality Award from the Massachusetts Medical Law Reports RX for Excellence Award in 2008 for promoting high standards that ensure safety in care or products for patients and education to improve safety and manage risks in health care.

National Academies of Health and Medicine:  Founded in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is one of three academies that make up the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) in the United States. Operating under the 1863 Congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health.

National Committee for Quality Assurance: Resources include information on HEDIS and Quality Measurement including benchmarking as well as education.

National Institutes of Health (NIH):  The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency — making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.

National Quality Forum: The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans by setting national priorities and goals for performance improvement, endorsing national consensus standards for measuring and publicly reporting on performance; and promoting the attainment of national goals through education and outreach programs. NFQ is working on National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Patient Safety, some of which may involve the laboratory.

Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (electronic journal): Bi-monthly journal, Patient Safety event calendar, Resource Center, and current patient safety news

Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine:  The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) was formed to create a world where no patients are harmed by diagnostic error. The organization’s collaborative actions with many of healthcare’s leading organizations focus on national initiatives to improve diagnosis in medicine and includes the formation of a very successful Coalition to Improve Diagnosis. Online resource designed to assist healthcare professionals in identification, evaluation and promotion of the application of best practices in aspects of the preanalytical phase of laboratory testing in clinical medicine. Resources include educational materials, guidelines, flowcharts, and reference literature.

Veterans Health Administration National Center for Patient Safety (NCPS): A public website for health practitioners. It provides resources on patient safety, Tips & Tools, and current Alerts and Advisories of patient safety concerns and medical equipment hazards. These include cases and examples of errors that have occurred that threatened patient safety and the actions that were taken, (e.g., patient not acceptably identified due to a missing middle initial, dialysis equipment malfunction leading to blood hemolysis, blood contamination during dialysis). NCPS also has a section on safety issues that commonly arise, such as inaccurate glucometer results due to faulty batteries, errors due to inappropriate dosing of anticoagulants, etc.

Westgard QC: Sections on patient safety concepts, reference articles on safety/medical error preventions etc. Free access to articles is available with registration.

World Health Organization Patient Safety: Information and resources regarding global patient safety priorities.

ASCLS develops and publishes ‘Patient Safety Tips’ brochures to provide educational materials for consumers, providers and other healthcare professionals to assist in the prevention of diagnostic testing errors and support safe, efficient and effective laboratory testing.

Clinical laboratories wishing to disseminate these products to its customers may print (using two-sided printing) and are encouraged to customize with your laboratory’s contact information.

Note: The documents listed below require the use of Acrobat reader. If you need to add or update your version of this software, click on the following link:

Patient and Family – Laboratory Safety Tip Brochures

24-Hour Urine Collection

Blood Specimen Collection (Venipuncture)

Common Substances that Affect Laboratory Test Results

Diarrhea & Stool Testing

Fasting: What is it? Does it matter?

Genetic Testing

Glucose Tolerance

Hydrogen Breath Test

Lipid Testing

Personal Coumadin INR Tracking

Vitamin D Testing

Provider and Healthcare Professional Laboratory Safety Tip Brochures

Cardiac Biomarkers for AMI

Drug-related Laboratory Test Interference

INR Point of Care Testing Performed by Provider or Caregiver

Point of Care Testing Use & Limitations

Using Laboratory Reference Intervals for Result Interpretation

Vitamin D

If you have technical problems with these formats, please contact the Patient Safety Committee.


The ASCLS Patient Safety Committee has developed Personal Pocket Laboratory Guide tri-folds. We encourage you to personalize and print these cards and provide them to your clients. The tri-folds contain

  • tips for patients to safeguard their laboratory testing
  • a chart for them to track their laboratory test results
  • the LabTestsOnLine website address, for questions about laboratory tests

These pocket guides are designed to be personalized with your laboratory contact information. These should be edited by adding contact information in the center text box of side 1 prior to printing.

 The Personal Pocket Guide Tri-fold documents are available in the following formats; they are to be printed 2-sided:

Word 2007 (contains 3 tri-folds per page)
Adobe PDF (contains 3 tri-folds per page)
Publisher 2007 (contains 1 tri-fold per page)


Clinical laboratory services are an integral component of the delivery of safe patient care. In order to continuously improve the safety of services provided, all laboratories should identify key measures and monitor their impact on patient safety as part of the laboratory’s performance improvement activities.

The intent of this procedure is to standardize safety measures between organizations. Standardized measures will provide an opportunity for statistical benchmarking across the lab community. These benchmarks can then be used by healthcare organizations to establish realistic performance improvement goals, and ultimately improve patient safety.

Patient Safety Quality Improvement Process – This procedure will guide you through the steps of a patient safety quality improvement process.

Patient Safety Indicators for Performance Improvement – This document contains a list of patient safety indicators that could be used in the following procedure.