Knowing a patient’s “laboratory picture” is crucial in any code blue situation. Having no streamlined method for collecting and processing laboratory specimens during codes leads to staff frustration and critical delays in patient care.


To simplify collection and testing of laboratory specimens during codes.


Staff nurses led an initiative through which (1) code laboratory tests were placed in a computerized order set, thereby simplifying ordering; (2) prepackaged bags of supplies for the new order set were placed in each code cart; (3) the laboratory department supervisor began carrying a code pager to ensure that laboratory staff are prepared for incoming “code labs”; (4) a protocol was created for laboratory staff to follow after receiving code labs; and (5) processes were developed for units that are not integrated in the organization’s electronic ordering system.


The mean turnaround time (the time from when laboratory tests are ordered to when results are posted) was reduced from 52.0 minutes to 31.3 minutes (P = .002). Laboratory staff improved their processing time (the time from when specimens are received by laboratory staff to when results are posted) from 34.9 minutes to 21.5 minutes (P = .01). Survey responses indicated that staff across disciplines were significantly more satisfied with the new process.


Because the changes are basic, they can be implemented easily in any hospital setting to improve turnaround time for laboratory tests during codes.

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