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October 2022 Quick Question Summary: Underfilled Tubes

A September 20 inquiry from Carolina Vilchez inspired our October Quick Question. Here are the stem and responses from 35 participants:

What is your policy on underfilled tubes?

  1. Reject all underfilled tubes. 23% [8]
  2. If <90%, reject and require a new specimen. 45% [16]
  3. If <90%, assay and reject if prolonged. 20% [7]
  4. If <80%, reject and require a new specimen. 6% [2]
  5. If <80%, assay and reject if prolonged. 0%
  6. Other, please describe: 6% [2]

Given the consensus from Drs. Paul Riley, Emanuel Favaloro, and Mr. Bob Gosselin, we conclude that answer 3, “if <90%, assay and reject if prolonged” may be the best choice, implying that those who answered 1, “Reject all underfilled tubes.” or 2, “If <90%, reject and require a new specimen,” could be creating some unnecessary inconvenience to the patient. However, here is an insightful response from Robyn Coleman, one of the people who answered “Other:”

“Many of the current analysers can automate the decision process for sample integrity though the level of acceptance needs to be set according to your own policy. We found this helped in applying consistency for recollection. We also note the expiry of the tube and found an increase in recollects in the month before the tube expiry. This helped educate our collectors about the importance of citrate tube stock rotation. Robyn Coleman SNP

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