Objective Earliest possible diagosis of congenital metabolic disorders is the top priority of neonatal screening. Two delayed diagnoses of galactosemia and one of hypothyroidism initiated this study on preanalytical time passing in neonatal screening.
Methods For 2006 and 2007, the time needed from blood sampling to arrival of the screening cards in 4 obstetrical clinics and 4 neonatal units at the screening laboratory was evaluated (shipping time). Results of 2006 were communicated to the participants early in 2007. Methods of optimization were discussed. Shipping times needed in 2006 and after intervention in 2007 were compared.
Results The 4 obstetrical clinics showed significant differences in shipping times in 2006 (mean 1.65–3.05 days), neonatal units a range of 1.80–2.17 days, mean 2.0. Thus, 44% of the results were obtained >72 hours after bloodsampling. Distribution patterns of shipping times also varied considerably (1–10 days). Requested results <72 hours after bloodsampling were possible only for screening cards reaching the laboratory within 63 hours after sampling and successsful screening completion on the day of sample arrival (9 hours processing time). These requirements were met in more than 88% of cases for samples from Monday through Wednesday, and in less than 40% for samples from Friday or Saturday.
Conclusions Differences between obstetrical clinics and neonatal units prior to and after intervention demonstrate still considerable preanalytical delays, however optimization is possible. One participant reduced shipping time from 3.05 to 1.31 days within one year.