Good Findings Start with Preanalytics – Our Sample Receipt Introduces Itself

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Every day, the MLL team focuses its combined efforts on making it possible for patients around the world to receive the best therapy thanks to quick and targeted leukemia diagnostics. But how does a normal workday look for the 200 or so employees? What are the different departments and areas? Our new magazine series “Introducing MLL” will be offering you a glimpse into our laboratory. In the first part, we want to present our Sample Receipt area.

The Sample Receipt area is where all patient samples first arrive at MLL and is therefore the first place where the sample material undergoes a quality inspection. The Sample Receipt employees receive the samples, and they record and check the patient master data, the sender data, and the quantity and type of sample material. It is at this time that all sample containers are labeled with a unique barcode, which allows the samples to be unambiguously identified at all times and is used to steer them in the laboratory information system as they pass through MLL.

Sample Receipt Team and Order Control

Eight Sample Receipt employees under the technical leadership of Mr. Florian Wimmer are responsible for this initial step. Most of the team members are medical specialists, periodically assisted by working students over the past few months.

In order to guarantee the senders of samples the highest possible quality, every work step at MLL is subject to strict guidelines and requirements. This process starts as soon as a sample is received at our laboratory: Together with medical laboratory assistants from the various analytical areas, the Sample Receipt employees check whether the sample material is suitable for the analyses requested. In addition, each submitted sample is examined by the scientists and physicians at MLL in view of the clinical question involved. This stringent order control process guarantees that all submitted samples are checked individually to ensure the very highest level of quality in the subsequent analysis. We contact the physician who sent in the sample whenever anything is unclear or there are questions, such as if the type of sample material is unsuitable for the analyses.

A Typical Workday

A typical workday in the MLL Sample Receipt area starts with recording the samples we receive in the mail and from courier services. Since many samples are received at the same time and need to be distributed quickly to the analytics areas, these peak times demand particularly careful and efficient work from our employees. After this phase, the employees in the Sample Receipt area manage any necessary follow-up tasks that arise from the initial results of the cytomorphology or immunophenotyping or are initiated by the senders themselves. In addition, phone calls are answered, missing billing information is filled in, and shipping materials are sent to the senders. The Sample Receipt area is therefore a central hub between the individual MLL analysis areas on the one hand and the senders on the other.

Outlook

In the future, the consistent promotion of automation and digitalization in the sample receipt process will be critical. Sample transport systems can assist the employees in distributing the samples. By expanding the electronic order entry system,  we want to increase direct communication between the physician information system and the laboratory information system – not only to minimize the chance of confusion and thereby achieve even greater patient safety but also to optimize the transmission of findings and follow-up management for the senders.