Flow chart showing testing and transit of samples to the laboratory for testing Flow chart showing testing and transit of samples to the laboratory for testing Flow chart showing testing and transit of samples to the laboratory for testing

Thank you for ensuring that newborn metabolic screening samples ('blood spot' or 'Guthrie cards') are received at the laboratory as soon as possible - a baby’s life may depend on it.

The Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme (NMSP) relies on timely testing and transit of samples to the laboratory for testing. Delays in getting your screening samples to the lab means there are considerable risks for babies born with one of the screened disorders.

Improving sample transit times is a priority focus for the NMSP.This quality improvement project is being led by the Antenatal and Childhood screening team at Health NZ | Te Whatu Ora, and is a collaborative effort with LabPLUS (the laboratory of Auckland City Hospital), Districts and lead maternity carers (LMCs).

Standards and results

The programme standard is for 95% of samples to reach the laboratory within four calendar days of being taken (transit time).

Health NZ reports quarterly to Districts on their transit times, raising awareness with District leads and LMCs, and working with them to identify improved processes.

Graph: Percent of samples that reached the lab in 4 days or fewer, July 2016 to September 2018, New Zealand

Bar graph showing percent of samples that reached the lab in 4 days or fewer, July 2016 to September 2018, New Zealand Bar graph showing percent of samples that reached the lab in 4 days or fewer, July 2016 to September 2018, New Zealand Bar graph showing percent of samples that reached the lab in 4 days or fewer, July 2016 to September 2018, New Zealand

The NSU reports quarterly to DHBs on their transit times, raising awareness with DHB leads and LMCs, and working with them to identify improved processes.

Sending your samples

Pre-addressed Courier envelopes are available from LabPLUS by emailing newbornscreeningresources@adhb.govt.nz or calling 09 307 4949 extn 23806.

Courier address

LabPLUS

Specimen Reception

Level 3, Building 31, Auckland City Hospital

Gate 4 off Grafton Rd

Grafton

Auckland

Support for Districts

Oversight of the programme at the level of District service provision is crucial for the delivery of safe, high quality screening programmes. This includes:

  • having clear accountabilities for checking District performance against programme indicators
  • ensuring there are standard operating procedures for the day-to-day operational management of programme activities.

The inclusion of NMSP indicators in the Maternity Quality and Safety Programme planning, and ongoing in-service education are examples of Districts’ commitment to this project.

The Metabolic screening sample process poster (docx, 131 KB) will support the quality improvement work in maternity facilities. It outlines the screening process in a simple graphic, there is room to add your District specific instructions. Hang them in prominent places to raise awareness.

Send us your feedback

Improving transit times for newborn metabolic screening is a collaborative effort and your contribution to this quality improvement initiative is much appreciated. We welcome and value your feedback on these resources and suggestions for anything else we can do to make the quality improvement process easier for you and your team.

Please contact us at antenatalnewbornscreening@tewhatuora.govt.nz if you have any queries or questions.