Open Access Research article

The practice of venous blood collection among laboratory and non-laboratory professionals working in Ethiopian Government Hospitals: a comparative study

Mulugeta Melkie*, Abel Girma and Tsegaye Tsalla

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Arbaminch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:88  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-88

Published: 25 February 2014



Pre-analytical phase of overall laboratory testing system continues to be the major source of errors that affect patient safety and health care system. One of the activities in this phase is venous blood collection (VBC), the most common type of specimen drawn or sent to clinical laboratories for further analysis; and the source for a potentially numerous types of errors. In this study, we focused on determining and comparing desirability/undesirability of activities during VBC in Ethiopian hospitals among different groups of professionals.


We conducted a cross-sectional comparative study in three government hospitals in South Ethiopia from February 2012 to September 2012. Randomly selected professionals who participate in VBC in outpatient and inpatient departments were requested to fill in structured and pretested questionnaire regarding their practice of VBC and their replies were categorized as ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ according to Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) standard. Then, data was analyzed using Medcalc® version 12.1.4 software. P value of less than 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.


In our study, 120 professionals were included among which 15.8% (n = 19) were laboratory professionals while the remaining 84.2% (n = 101) were non-laboratory professionals. Conscious patient identification in pre-collection phase of VBC and position of patients’ hands in actual collection phase of VBC involved the highest proportion of undesirability among both groups of professionals. However, in the post collection phase, specimen transferring from syringes to test tubes (15.8%) and mixing specimen with additives (63.4%) involved highest proportions of undesirability among laboratory and non-laboratory professionals respectively. Laboratory professionals reported better desirable practice in patient identification frequency, labeling and checking expiry dates of test tubes, specimen transfer and transport practices.


In conclusion, preparatory activities of VBC involved the highest proportions of undesirable practices among both groups of professionals. However, relatively better proportions of desirability were seen among laboratory professionals than non-laboratory professionals in some pre- and post-collection phase activities. The difference might be seen as a result of better qualification, education and training experience on VBC among laboratory professionals.

Venous blood collection; Pre-analytical error; Ethiopia