Saturday, May 18, 2013

ASM Quality Workshop

ASM Quality Workshop
Today we participated in the Quality Workshop at the Annual General Meeting (ASM) for the American Society for Microbiology.  In some respects this is the perfect union.  The ASM attracts about a bazillion people from around the world.  It is big enough to fill almost every hotel in Denver.  The Quality Workshop is a bit of a niche interest, but we managed to have people from across the US, Canada Lebanon, South Africa, Australia and the Republic of Cameroon.  Small conferences will attract interested folks, and mega-meetings will attract broad international crowds.  We were lucky to end up with the best of both.

Without wanting to overstate the situation, I think the light has gone on  in the United States.  While at one time the CLIA regulations were the vanguard leaders in the world, many would say at 25 years old, CLIA has become a tired millstone in serious need of revision.  While there are many US laboratories that don’t give a damn to quality, those that are recognize that being accredited to CLIA provides no evidence of interest in making their laboratory better.  

Fast, cheap, east, mandatory and sufficient; good-enough is good-enough.

The folks that attended the workshop were of a different mindset; interested in learning about international quality, with higher aspirations for their laboratory’s reputation and recognition.

The meeting was put together by CDC and included two CDC speakers, a well-informed speaker from another laboratory and me.  One can find the names of the other speakers by going to the ASM Annual General Meeting site and looking for speakers at workshop WS:04.

It was an excellent meeting full of practical tips, and perspective. 

I gave a good overview of why Quality Management belongs in every laboratory. 
 A very good presentation was given on CLSI and that organization’s participation in the Quality area.  A very good crosswalk was presented on how CLSI guidelines lined up with the requirements of ISO standards.  It was pretty clear that CLSI is contributing to US medical laboratories by providing a series of documents that help implement Quality.   

What was really interesting to me was the presentation on measurement uncertainty from a laboratory in the US that had decided to get accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 very early on, had has had to struggle with MU.  A model for application of MU for quantitation of urine cultures was presented.  

I thought it truly excellent.  We all agreed that MU is an irrelevant waste of time, but has to be dealt with if a laboratory wants to benefit from the achievement of ISO accreditation.  Having to jump through hoops purely to satisfy accreditation bodies may be stupid and evil, but it unfortunately an unavoidable stupid evil.    What Alice presented was a model that would get it done in as painless a manner possible.  And that probably is the best way forward.  

And more to the point, the information is generated solely for internal  holding.  Do not present the information to anyone, other than the accrediting body. 
What I thought amusing was her mentioning that the accrediting body required her to actually to through the arithmetic during their site visit.  Just sad.

The last presentation was unfortunately cut short because so many questions were being asked.  It was too bad because it was shaping up as an excellent presentation fo some practical tips on implementing Quality on an voluntary level.  As mentioned, it your laboratory is not going to go for full ISO accreditation, you are still better off implementing some easy steps along the way, and gradually building your Quality inventory.  It is not the best way to implement Quality but if management and staff are committed, it can work.  I am thinking of inviting her to give the presentation again in Vancouver at the POLQM Medical Laboratory Quality Conference Meeting October 16-17-18 2013.

If you want to meeting an impressive faculty, plan to come to the meeting.  If you want to learn and discuss and debate Quality with peers, plan to come to the meeting.  It you want to participate in a World Standards Day celebration, plan to come to the meeting.

More info VERY SOON.


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