Objective: A major target of quality assurance is the minimization of error rates in order to enhance patient safety. Six Sigma is a method targeting zero error (3.4 errors per million events) used in industry. The five main principles of Six Sigma are defining, measuring, analysis, improvement and control. Using this methodology, the causes of errors can be examined and process improvement strategies can be identified. The aim of our study was to evaluate the utility of Six Sigma methodology in error reduction in our pathology laboratory.
Material and Method: The errors encountered between April 2014 and April 2015 were recorded by the pathology personnel. Error follow-up forms were examined by the quality control supervisor, administrative supervisor and the head of the department. Using Six Sigma methodology, the rate of errors was measured monthly and the distribution of errors at the preanalytic, analytic and postanalytical phases was analysed. Improvement strategies were reclaimed in the monthly intradepartmental meetings and the control of the units with high error rates was provided.
Results: Fifty-six (52.4%) of 107 recorded errors in total were at the pre-analytic phase. Forty-five errors (42%) were recorded as analytical and 6 errors (5.6%) as post-analytical. Two of the 45 errors were major irrevocable errors. The error rate was 6.8 per million in the first half of the year and 1.3 per million in the second half, decreasing by 79.77%.
Conclusion: The Six Sigma trial in our pathology laboratory provided the reduction of the error rates mainly in the pre-analytic and analytic phases.