How to Avoid the Lost Specimen Blame Game 

Lost Specimen Blame GameIt’s a story as old as time – two parties in a dispute with conflicting statements in the absence of concrete evidence. In the world of outreach laboratories, the dispute often happens between physician offices and laboratory couriers over what happened to a missing specimen.

As you may know, hopefully not from experience, arguing with customers is a great way to lose customers. While most businesses say, “The customer is always right.”, what happens if the customer is in fact wrong? In the case of medical labs, what if the reason a sample is missing is because the nurse didn’t place it in the collection basket? How do you avoid the blame game and demonstrate your lab’s competence with specimen transportation? How can you verify that your courier is picking up and delivering specimens exactly as they are supposed to?

If you are dealing with a” lost specimen blame game” in your lab there are only two options that will resolve the conflict: 1. One party admits they are in the wrong, or 2. Provide concrete evidence regarding who last had possession of the specimen. Let’s think through the possible benefits/consequences of choosing each option.

Option 1: Take the customer’s side and take the blame.

If you know your courier made a mistake admitting it is always the right choice. Your lab can address mistakes with couriers to hopefully prevent them from happening again in the future. But, when there is no proof that it was your courier who lost a sample, and you suspect that blame lies with physician office staff, taking the customers side for sake of “keeping the peace” could be dangerous for a couple of reasons:

  • If it is an issue with the customer, you are risking that your customer won’t make mistakes again, and labs can’t afford to hang their reputation based on the dependability of their customers not making blunders.
  • Siding with the customer still puts a dent in your reputation and makes you liable for a lost specimen. One dent may not affect your image much, but several dents or one irreplaceable sample can make you look untrustworthy and legally responsible.

Option 2: Take pride in satisfying customers and avoid arguments with concrete evidence.

This is by far the best option to avoid the blame game, and it is specifically why MCE was created. By utilizing barcodes and mobile scanning devices like the Honeywell CT40, couriers scan-in specimen bags at pick-up and obtain customers digital signatures prior to leaving. Furthermore, MCE can email customer receipts noting pick-up times and what barcodes were scanned-in at the end of each customer visit. At lab drop-off specimen bags are scanned-out by couriers and are reconciled to what was scanned-in. If there are any discrepancies, the courier will see what barcodes are missing prompting them to look for the missing specimen before an issue with the customer ever occurs.

With MCE, date/time stamps, barcode numbers, and courier names are all associated with scanned specimen bags. So, if there is ever an accusation of a missing specimen a quick search in MCE can quickly verify what was picked-up. If the lab can verify that a specimen was never picked-up then the customers know they likely didn’t place a sample in the proper place, or as in many real-world cases, it simply fell behind something and never made it into the pick-up basket.

Humans make mistakes, but technology created specifically for medical courier operations such as MCE limit those mistakes to protect you, your customer base, and most importantly patients. If your lab is tired of dealing with the he-said-she-said blame game of missing specimens, Connect with us right now for a personalized web demonstration followed by a quote today. 


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