A session scheduled for July 28 at AACC’s Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, entitled “Critical-Result Management Practices: Global Perspectives and Recommendations for Best Practices” (32216), will educate attendees on current policies and procedures for managing communication of critical and significantly abnormal results in medical laboratories.

A panel of experts from three continents—Andrea Rita Horvath, MD, PhD, clinical director of SEALS North at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia; Andrew Young, MD, PhD, a medical director at Quest Diagnostics; and Eva Ajzner, MD, PhD, of the Teaching Hospital of University of Debrecen Medical and Health Science Center in Debrecen, Hungary—will provide an overview of the state-of-the-art of critical- and significant-risk result management. This trio also will describe international efforts that aim to support labs in developing their policies and procedures to reduce patient risk, promote patient safety, use resources efficiently, and meet current regulatory and accreditation requirements.

“Healthcare providers, including medical laboratories, make tremendous contributions to patient safety every day, through the timely reporting of test results that signify critical or significant patient risk,” Horvath says. “In spite of this, the failure to notify, follow up, and action life-threatening laboratory results has been shown to cause avoidable morbidity and mortality.”

This insightful Annual Meeting session will “introduce the term ‘critical-risk results’ to refer to test results that signify imminent life-threatening risk, and need immediate communication to a responsible caregiver for urgent clinical evaluation,” according to Horvath. “In addition, we will use the term ‘significant-risk results’ for results that may not be immediately life-threatening, but still represent significant risk to patients if they are not evaluated by a clinician in a time-dependent manner.”

And while the session’s speakers plan to discuss how to make improvements on a broad scale, they also intend to emphasize the importance of establishing policies and procedures at a local level, which are then approved jointly by the local laboratory and medical staff because every organization serves a unique patient population, with its own unique distribution of resources.

“At the same time, however, the concept of patient risk is broadly applicable, and organizations can take advantage of the growing literature to be sure that local policies and procedures are aligned with common practice,” Young observes. “Thus, we hope to illustrate questions and variables to address when making key local decisions.”

Like the speakers themselves, this session has an international flair, as it was developed in consultation with organizations on three continents: the CLSI Document Development Committee on Reporting Critical, Life-Threatening, or Life-Altering Laboratory Results; the Critical Results Task and Finish Group of the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine; and the Critical Results Harmonization Working Party of the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists.

Read more about the session.