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Reducing the risk of errors in medical laboratories

Never before have reliability and accuracy been so important for medical laboratories. Robust risk management processes are the best defence against errors and false results. One of the world’s most trusted guidance documents for risk management in medical laboratories has just been updated to help.


The reliability of laboratory results in medical settings is essential for correct diagnoses and positive clinical outcomes, so implementing measures to reduce the risk of errors is an essential part of business.  


ISO 22367Medical laboratories – Application of risk management to medical laboratories, specifies a process for a medical laboratory to identify and manage the risk to patients and service providers that are associated with medical laboratory examinations. It has just been updated to align with other International Standards in the industry, such as ISO 14971 for risk management in medical devices, and to provide more effective guidance for the sector.


The standard replaces ISO/TS 22367, Medical laboratories – Reduction of error through risk management and continual improvement, a technical specification used by governments and laboratories around the world to help reduce and manage risks associated with medical laboratory services.


Dr Jack J. Zakowski, Chair of the committee of experts that developed the standard, said risk management in medical settings is complex because it involves the cooperation of many stakeholders, and each stakeholder may have a different perspective on the risk of harm. Internationally agreed and adopted standards, therefore, ensure adequate safety levels.

“Activities in a medical laboratory can expose patients, workers or other stakeholders to a variety of hazards, which can lead directly or indirectly to varying degrees of harm,” he said.

“Effective risk management involves a planned, systematic process that addresses both the probability of harm occurring and the consequences of that harm.