Celebrating World Accreditation Day – 2022 (Plus…..!)
When I first started this blog in June 2012, one of the topics that we said that we would discuss was Quality Partners. I made a rookie mistake by using the phrase but didn’t define it. We had been using the term in our Certificate Course as far back as 2008, but that was a closed system that few readers would have an opportunity to read.
What we described in the course and later here was that Quality Partners were organizations that worked with and around medical laboratories with the sole intent of helping laboratories develop and maintain their Quality Management Systems with the goals being error reduction and quality improvement.
As best as I can tell we were the first and only to use this phrase in this context, and maybe still am. The point is that the laboratory is surrounded by organizations intent of keeping Quality front of mind. We include in this list:
- Standards Development Bodies
- Accreditation Bodies
- Proficiency Testing Bodies
- Professional Organizations
- Equipment and Reagent Suppliers.
I return to this concept because every year at this time the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) recognizes and celebrates the importance of Accreditation in the process to improve laboratories and protect the public.
Having spent most of my career being involved in Quality Partnership (Standards Development, Accreditation, Proficiency Testing, Educator) I am aware that most laboratorians, even today, still think of Quality Partners more as adversaries. They tend to see us and generally appreciate us as grudgingly helpful but more often as picky and intrusive. The over-riding thought is “we don’t make mistakes”.
And for the most part, they are right… most laboratories do a good job most of the time. Until they don’t.
What we have seen over the last few years has been all sorts of false positive and false negative COVID-19 testing errors. (see: https://cmpt.ca/covid-19-proficiency-testing-one-year-later/) We see concerning errors in Proficiency Testing in Gram Staining and in Pre-examination knowledge (see: https://cmpt.ca/publications-newsletter/annual-report/). The problem is that wrong information goes out and can impact on patients and their healthcare workers when faulty decisions are made.
Without going into details, last year we saw an organization with little experience in proficiency sample put staff at considerable risk and harm from inappropriate use of the samples. Had they thought to contact us rather than go directly to harm, we may have reduced anguish and concern. We are there to prevent bad things from happening.
So from my perspective, I congratulate ALL our Quality Partner colleagues with particular reference to our Accreditation colleagues for remaining committed and helping laboratorians help themselves and protect the public.
And ILAC, many thanks for shining the light.
But here is a thought. Maybe the time has come to acknowledge not only the standards development organizations, and the laboratory accreditation organizations, but to formally recognize ALL the laboratory Quality Partners for their contributions for making healthcare safer.