Incidents in Molecular Pathology: Frequency and Causes During Routine Testing

Cleo Keppens, Yann Van Royen, Anne Brysse, Sophie Cotteret, Estrid Høgdall, Tine Plato Kuhlmann, Brendan O'Sullivan, Patrick Pauwels, Siegrid Pauwels, Mitja Rot, Nancy Vanderheyden, Ilse Van Hee, Elisabeth Mc Dequeker


CONTEXT.—: Errors in laboratory medicine could compromise patient safety. Good laboratory practice includes identifying and managing nonconformities in the total test process. Varying error percentages have been described in other fields but are lacking for molecular oncology.

OBJECTIVES.—: To gain insight into incident causes and frequency in the total test process from 8 European institutes routinely performing biomarker tests in non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

DESIGN.—: All incidents documented in 2018 were collected from all hospital services for pre-preanalytical entries before the biomarker test, as well as specific incidents for biomarker tests.

RESULTS.—: There were 5185 incidents collected, of which 4363 (84.1%) occurred in the pre-preanalytical phase (all hospital services), 2796 of 4363 (64.1%) related to missing or incorrect request form information. From the other 822 specific incidents, 166 (20.2%) were recorded in the preanalytical phase, 275 (33.5%) in the analytical phase, and 194 (23.6%) in the postanalytical phase, mainly due to incorrect report content. Only 47 of 822 (5.7%) incidents were recorded in the post-postanalytical phase, and 123 (15.0%) in the complete total test process. For 17 of 822 (2.1%) incidents the time point was unknown. Pre-preanalytical incidents were resolved sooner than incidents on the complete process (mean 6 versus 60 days). For 1215 of 5168 (23.5%) incidents with known causes a specific action was undertaken besides documenting them, not limited to accredited institutes.

CONCLUSIONS.—: There was a large variety in the number and extent of documented incidents. Correct and complete information on the request forms and final reports are highly error prone and require additional focus.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1270-1279
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Biomarkers/analysis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Laboratories, Hospital/standards
  • Lung Neoplasms/pathology
  • Medical Errors/statistics & numerical data
  • Pathology, Molecular/standards
  • Patient Safety
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care


Dive into the research topics of 'Incidents in Molecular Pathology: Frequency and Causes During Routine Testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this