Determination of turn around time (TAT): A key indicator of the laboratory performance
Shubha H V
Background: Timely reporting of laboratory test results is a crucial indicator of the quality services along with accurate, precise and reliable reports. Therefore, we analyzed the laboratory performance based on the monthly TAT achieved using a performance indicator developed by the in-house laboratory information system (LIS) software at our laboratory.Methods: A total of 14652 accessions and 24363 tests performed over a period of six months were included. We defined TAT as the time from sample accessioning in lab to report release. The pre-defined TATs for various tests were fed to the LIS and an in-house software performance indicator was developed for regular monitoring of TAT. The tests were divided into short lead (TAT <90 mins) and long lead tests (TAT - 90-180 mins). Lab category wise monthly distribution of TAT achieved for accessions were analyzed. Various factors affecting TAT were also evaluated and improvement measures were suggested.Results: The highest number of accessions and tests were 3119 (21%) and 6047 (25%) respectively in March. Majority of accessions were from biochemistry constituting 34% followed by hematology (26%) and serology (14%).Out of 24363 tests, 21439 (88%) were short lead tests and 2924 (12%) were long lead tests. 100% TAT was achieved in serology, coagulation and nephelometry categories. The overall TAT outlier rate accounted for 2.6%.Conclusions: Efficient lab performance depends on achieving rapid TAT. Regular monitoring of TAT data helps in evaluating the reasons for delayed TAT. Regular lab review meetings, strict vigilance of quality assurance, maintenance of inventory and consumption details, regular feedbacks from clinicians and patients, speedy procurement of clinical history significantly helps in improving the lab TAT.