Sunday, November 14, 2010

Better Late than Never!

 A recurrent theme is that Laboratory Quality is not an independent activity, but rather is dependent upon the work and effort of its Quality Partners.  The laboratories’ quality partners include (a) standards development organizations, (b) accreditation bodies (c) proficiency testing providers (d) equipment and reagent suppliers (e) education providers and (f) professional organizations, and (g) the public as manifested by the litigators, regulators, and legislators.  
So when one of Canada’s largest professional organization has finally decided to get into the game, that is a very BIG DEAL.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is the official authoritative body responsible for medical specialists in Canada.  It is the Royal College that authorizes schools to develop and maintain resident training programs.  It is the organization that maintains the requirements for training content and the specialist examinations, and grants the specialty designation.  It is the organization that defines and monitors the maintenance of competence for all medical specialists, including pathologists and medical microbiologists, medical biochemists and medical haematopathologists.

On Monday the Royal College is holding a special meeting to discuss the Quality agenda and where it sees its roles and responsibilities.  It should be an interesting meeting.

Well Gee Whiz, what took you so long!!

I can only speak for the specialties that I know where the training agenda for Quality it by-and-large absent and the examination questions related to Quality trivial.  The Quality agenda has been not even a passing fancy.  It has been so barely noticeable, one might say it has been invisible.

Now I know and understand that in an era when there is so much new medical knowledge it is hard, maybe impossible for authorities to keep their collective fingers on the collective pulse of training.  But at the same time, Quality is not new, and never should have been marginalized to the extent that it has.  I mean Deming was promoting Quality Management 70 years ago and  the IOM To Err is Human was written 9 years ago.  So it seems to me that the Royal College has to take some of the responsibility for the persistent and ongoing challenges to Patient Safety.  Laboratory Quality Management has to have a higher profile by our oversight body.  And its not like this was never raised as an issue before.

At my university we have a 10 hour seminar series for residents on laboratory quality management every two years.  (Well that is a bit of a stretch because 2011 will be the second time that I will have put the series on, but I see no reason that we would ever stop the program).
Additionally we are having increasing numbers of final year residents taking our 20-week on-line LQM Certificate Course.  In addition we have had residents from other universities also take the course.  So we are doing our part (self-indulgent pat-on-the-back).

With our meeting this week it appears that the Royal College is awaking to the new Quality imperative and that is a good thing.

Fingers Crossed.


PS: To be fair, I suspect that Canada is no worse off than most countries when it comes to providing Quality Management training to residents in pathology and laboratory management.  Any one with information is asked to comment.

PPS:  Those interested in learning more about the course are invited to go to

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