Communication of Critical Laboratory Values: Optimization of the Process through Secure Messaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Timely communication of critical laboratory results is important yet cumbersome. OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of a new technology on the process of reporting critical laboratory results at our 480-bed, adult/children, tertiary-care, medical school-affiliated health center in the southeastern region of the United States. METHODS: We changed the process of reporting critical values by telephone only to reporting via telephone and a secure messaging app. Physician order entry, an online on-call roster for availability, and support from the C-suite (executive branch of the organization) were instrumental in implementation. RESULTS: Consistently, before our process changes, more than 95% of the critical laboratory results were reported in less than 30 minutes. Use of the app reduced the time taken for reporting results. The need to involve pathology residents and attending physicians in reporting has been eliminated by this process. DISCUSSION: Secure messaging has facilitated the reporting of critical laboratory values, making it more efficient and providing a reliable record of the process. This process meets or exceeds the standards of the accrediting agencies. The method is suitable for activating rapid-response teams in case of hypercritical values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e6-e11
JournalLaboratory medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • critical laboratory results
  • accrediting agency standards
  • employee satisfaction
  • hypercritical values
  • performance improvement
  • secure messaging app

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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