Date: 12/2/2009

Hospitals of Community Healthcare System among first in nation to use bar code technology in Lab

In the Central Laboratory of Community Healthcare System, Tessa Sorba, histology assistant, checks in specimens using the new Dako True Positive ID Tracking System®.

The hospitals of Community Healthcare System are among the first in the country to use bar-coding technology providing more efficient results for physicians and reducing the opportunity for identification errors of surgical specimens processed in the laboratory.

The same type of technology used to track packages around the globe is now being used to safeguard specimens processed by the laboratories of Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago; and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart. The True Positive ID Tracking System® enables the laboratories to process specimens more accurately and efficiently than ever before.

“Investing in groundbreaking technology, such as the new specimen tracking system, enables our hospitals to attain new levels of patient safety and security, and, set a new standard in the quality care we provide,” said John Gorski, Chief Operating Officer for Community Healthcare System.

After a surgical procedure, tissue specimens are sent to the Central Laboratory for processing. The new computerized tracking system provides a reliable and efficient way for every single tissue cassette and slide to be permanently identified by a bar code, from check-in through log-out. This eliminates the possibility of a patient’s tissue sample being mixed up with another patient’s tissue sample and helps the pathologist provide a more accurate diagnosis.

Annually, the Central Laboratory of Community Healthcare System processes some 150,000 surgical specimens. Previously at check-in and at most hospital laboratories across the country, each specimen arrived with a handwritten label and that information was used to create a specimen identification number. This type of manual labeling was repeated several times during specimen preparation—using either handwriting or keystroke. For one patient, there may be multiple cassettes requiring several different numbers.

However, with the True Positive ID Barcode Tracking System at check-in, each tissue sample is assigned its own number by a computerized processor which simultaneously feeds the information into the computer data base and locks it in. The barcode tracking system eliminates the possibility of errors caused by illegible handwriting, typos, transposed identification numbers or matching the wrong specimen with the wrong label. The system uses durable labels and cassettes that maintain their original appearance through heat and chemical processes.

A study conducted by Ohio University comparing bar-coding to keystroke entry found that even well-trained data entry operators made, on average, one error every 300 keystrokes. However, bar code scanning — using the same technology as the True Positive system - resulted in one error in 10.5 million scans (worst case) or one error in 612.9 million scans (best case).

“Setting new standards in care has earned us the respect and trust of our patients,” said Brenda Eriksen, M.D., Medical Director of Pathology for Community Healthcare System. “This system allows us to put up the best possible defense against misidentification errors and their consequences.”

For more information about the innovative programs and cutting-edge technologies making a difference in the lives of patients at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System: Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, please visit our web site at