Monday, June 20, 2011

Quality Weekend Workshop - the day after

So this weekend we had our POLQM Quality Weekend Workshop and while I may be accused of being a little biased, I have to say that it was terrific.  I am sorry that many people that I would have liked to have attend the meeting were not able to be there.   On the other hand we got the chance to connect with some old friends that I did not expect to see. 

Too bad because we had brought together some of the most significant quality gurus from around the world, including Jane Carter from Keyna, Richard Zarbo and Michael Astion and Robert Martin and Luci Berte from the US, Dr. Elisabeth Dequeker from Belgium, and George Cembrowski and David Seccombe from Canada.  David Hardwick, a visionary laboratorian with international expertise in Planning and Research in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine gave an incredible presentation on the Medical Laboratory, Past, Present, and Future... the core message being continuation of the 250 year  steady state increase in knowledge and information at 2% compounded year over year. 

Denise Dudzinski gave a thought provoking presentation on ethical issues that surround disclosure of laboratory error  to physicians and patients.  Where is the balance point between the right to know and unncessary anxiety?  This was one presentation that will have me thinking for the next year.

What was so exciting to me about this meeting was the focus on Quality Partners, something that readers of MMLQR are very much aware, but a concept emerging from shadows to prominence in the medical laboratory world.  Between Bio-Rad, BD, CSA, and DAP and a number of proficiency testing providers, a huge light was shed. 

The second theme was the growing opportunity for quality positions in medical laboratories in Canada, and around the world.  Clearly the clinical healthcare community has awoken its interest and awareness in quality.  Quality teams, Quality managers, and Quality lead positions are becoming a MAJOR growth point. As the total number of positions in laboratories gradually decreases, the positions in Quality are highly likely to remain stable or increase. 

Jane Carter gave a brilliant presentation on the Quality activities that she is involved with in Kenya, and throughout eastern and southern Africa.    She and some of her staff were able to come to Canada on support from AMREF Canada, an international office of the African Medical Research Foundation.  (More on this later).

There was a lot of discussion about making the meeting a regular event on the annual calendar, and I have had some significant discussions with two potential partners.  We would have to think about it for a while. 

From a Quality perspective, we have had a lot of success which are seen in the responses to the satisfaction comment sheets.  On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5(very positive) the meeting rates somewhere near 4.8, which high marks for speakers, and theme, presentations, staff and catering.  The registration fee was down a bit (about 4.2) but on review it would be difficult to do too much about that.  The biggest complaint was that the lecture room air conditioner was too strong.   

On the opportunity for improvement side, the biggest issue that I have to work through is in marketing.  Despite what I thought was a wide distribution of notices, we were not very successful at attracting the size of audience that I wanted.  Some suggestions have been made (such as having the meeting on Father's Day weekend).  We will have to do some significant Study (as in PDSA) before we do the next one. 

Bottom line is that the meeting was a pretty positive experience, and we have a lot of reason to be pleased. 

We have a file of presentation precis which will be available at


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  1. As one of the attendees at the workshop on the weekend I can objectively endorse Michael's assessment of the workshop's success. I especially enjoyed Michael Astion's presentation on Human Resources and how we need to have the right people doing the right things. He also encouraged us to use plain language and not confuse patients and other health professionals by using jargon. For example, when we make a mistake, call it just that and not "a nonconformity"!

    It's good to see the email notification of blog posts is now working, thanks.

  2. Physicians certainly have the right to know if we have committed any laboratory error. This is to prevent further damages or infliction being made to the patients.

  3. I agree. Doctors and laboratory technicians should always have an honest communication by providing only the correct and precise details about a patient's condition.


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