Newborn Screening Proper Sample Collection


Thanks to the efforts of SCHA and DHEC’s “On Time Every Time” initiative, South Carolina’s hospitals have made dramatic improvements in gathering newborn screening blood samples in a timely manner. However, many of the samples arrive at a DHEC lab with insufficient specimens for testing. This requires DHEC to contact the hospital for a second sample, which delays the potential diagnosis of a life-threatening condition.

The Goal:

South Carolina’s unsatisfactory specimen rate was 4%. The goal is to bring that number down as much as possible.

Method & Implementation:

In order to reduce the number of insufficient samples, SCHA and DHEC partnered to offer annual hospital trainings on proper specimen collecting; created a “Train the Trainer” workbook review to give hospital staff all of the tools to train appropriately; and added additional QI measures to individualized hospital report cards to take sample collection into account. 


One year into the initiative, South Carolina hospitals have already seen a nearly 25% drop in the number of unsatisfactory specimens submitted to DHEC labs, going from 4% to 3.09% by the end of 2017.   

To learn more about First Time - Every Time efforts, a Q&A with DHEC's Dana Smith is available here.

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