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The influence of time and temperature on patient blood samples in transit

As part of the UKAS ISO15189 accreditation, every clinical diagnostic laboratory needs to achieve and document certain quality goals. These quality goals involve the preanalytical phase, the analytical phase and the postanalytical phase. The preanalysis includes the transport of blood, which has inherent variability which can compromise the integrity of the blood samples.

Blood storage temperature in transit

In a recent publication in Annals of Clinical Biochemistry 2017, Vol. 54(4) 448-462 by van Balveren et al it was established that some analytes in blood samples are particularly susceptible to temperature variances. Notably LDH, K+, Na+, Ca2+ are all susceptible to low temperatures, having a deleterious effect on blood results. At higher temperatures (room temperature and above) Bicarbonate measurements become unstable. This could result in additional samples being required or misdiagnosis of a patient’s condition, based upon spurious results.

Full details are available here: Effects of time and temperature on 48 routine chemistry, haematology and coagulation analytes in whole blood samples

What does this mean for the safe storage and transportation of blood samples?

Whilst very few tests were affected negatively by higher temperatures (with the exception of Bicarb measurements) several were affected by lower temperatures, which could lead to unnecessary treatments or incomplete diagnoses.

Temperature during transport is therefore a critical issue that could affect patient safety and accuracy of diagnoses.

This paper underpins the clear need for monitoring of patient samples in transit. Tutela have established devices that allow temperature to be measured over time and a report to be generated when the samples arrive in the laboratory so that clinicians can be confident in the results from the laboratory. And the laboratory can be certain that the results are unaffected by temperature variances.

What to consider when monitoring blood samples during transit

  • Temperature variances can affect results
  • Monitoring allows informed decisions on the suitability of samples for analysis
  • Automated monitoring provides a fail-safe approach to monitoring during transit

Tutela Monitoring Systems, part of Checkit UK Limited, are experienced in delivering automated temperature monitoring solutions for diagnostic laboratories. Tutela is fully UKAS accredited and utilised in both NHS and private laboratories.

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