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Guidelines for Checking Blood Results on the Acute Surgical Wards

Introduction: Hospital blood tests are performed in high volume to facilitate clinical diagnosis and to monitor patients’ response to therapeutic intervention. There is currently no academic literature or formal guidelines advising on optimum time frames when blood results should be checked. Our study aims to assess the time taken for junior doctors on acute surgical wards in a District General Hospital to review available blood results and implement guidelines if required, to maintain consistent clinical care and patient safety. Methods: Data was collected retrospectively during a month from three acute surgical wards (two general surgery wards and one orthopaedic trauma ward). All blood samples taken in this period were assessed to see the time frame that results were being reviewed. Results: 1,325 blood samples were received and analysed by the hospital laboratory. The time frames that these blood results were first accessed are <6 h 1,020 (77.0%), <12 h 1,111 (83.9%), <24 h 1,203 (90.8%), 24-48 h 1,247 (94.1%), 48-72 h (96.1%) and >72 h 1,325 (100%). Of the 122 blood results not reviewed within 24 hours all had at least one component of a test outside the normal reference range. Conclusion: Our results show time to checking blood results can be significantly improved. To ensure all patients are cared for as advocated by the Royal College Surgeons ‘Good Surgical Practice’, we propose all blood results should be checked and acted upon within 12 hours of the results being available or expeditiously if the clinical situation requires.


Joel Humphrey, Tony Antonios, Anatole Wiik, Laura Blake, Jennifer Billington and Alistair Tindall

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