Good details on request forms make all the difference

(Aotea News, April 2012)

Complete and accurate details on request forms allow us to get your results back to you more quickly and with greater accuracy. Here are tips on good practice for completing a request form if you do not have access to eLab.

  • Having the requestor code clearly printed on the request form helps to ensure that the results get back to the correct referrer at the correct surgery.

Where this information is not included on the request form, data entry staff have to search and select the correct referrer in the database. This takes time and slows down the data entry process. It also carries the risk that the incorrect referrer is selected from the database, meaning that the results may go back to the wrong location or the wrong doctor.

  • Full and correct information describing the site and type of specimen is particularly important to departments such as histology and microbiology.

Here, the details given about the site and specimen are used to determine which tests are to be performed.
For example, a specimen labelled as 'swab of leg' will get routine culture for common skin pathogens such as staphyloccocci and streptococci. In contrast, a specimen labelled as 'swab of leg surgical wound' will get additional culture plates for anaerobes and a gram stain for white blood cells.

  • Legible handwriting on request forms ensures that important details used to determine which tests are required can be quickly and correctly interpreted.

Illegible handwriting slows down processing and leads to clinical details or tests being missed or incorrect tests being selected.