The preanalytical phase of laboratory testing encompasses numerous critical steps. The correct specimen must be obtained from the correct patient using correct technique, and specimens must be handled and processed in a manner which ensures specimen integrity. Along the way, there are numerous factors and variables where medical error may be introduced. It is estimated that preanalytical errors may account for up to 70% of total laboratory errors. In addition, delays and rework in the preanalytical phase prolong the time from order to results. As such, improvements in this area may deliver the greatest gains in the overall quality of laboratory services and patient care.