Author(s): Valenstein PN, Souers R, Wilkinson DS College of
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Abstract CONTEXT: Inadequate staffing of clinical laboratories may compromise quality and throughput, whereas excess staff unnecessarily increases the cost of testing. OBJECTIVES: To measure productivity of technical staff and management span of control in a large number of laboratories and to determine factors associated with favorable staffing ratios. DESIGN: A total of 151 clinical laboratories provided information about technical and management staffing and output (workload) for 4 laboratory sections: anatomic pathology, chemistry/hematology/immunology, microbiology, and transfusion medicine. RESULTS: For each laboratory section, there was wide variation in labor productivity (output per nonmanagement full-time equivalent) and in management span of control (nonmanagement full-time equivalent per manager). Productivity ratios for the 10th- and 90th-percentile laboratories varied more than 3-fold. Except in histology, laboratory sections with higher test volumes had higher labor productivity (P < .001 for cytology, chemistry/hematology, and transfusion medicine; P = .003 for microbiology). Even within peer groups composed of sections with similar volume, there was wide variation in labor productivity. A number of variables other than test volume were associated with labor productivity and management span of control. Staffing ratios for each laboratory section and for sections of different sizes are presented. CONCLUSIONS: Despite standardization of testing methods in the clinical laboratory industry, there is wide variation in staffing level among institutions. This variation suggests opportunities to improve staff productivity in many facilities.
This article was published in Arch Pathol Lab Med
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology