Improvement of Clinical Laboratory Services through Quality

Improvement of Clinical Laboratory Services through Quality

Antonia Mourtzikou (Department of Cytopathology, “Attikon” University Hospital, Athens, Greece & Department of Biochemistry, “Asclepeion” Voulas, Greece), Marilena Stamouli (Department of Biochemistry, Naval and Veterans Hospital, Athens, Greece) and Elena Athanasiadi (Department of Cytopatholology, “Attikon” University Hospital, Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/ijrqeh.2013040103
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Health care providers need test results that are relevant, accurate, and reliable for patient care. The term “quality control” is used to describe the set of procedures used to check that the results of laboratory tests are reliable for the intended clinical use. A laboratory might produce results that are considered unsatisfactory. While the cause for this might be immediately apparent, the identification of the underlying problem is neither always straightforward, nor easy because many factors can affect result quality. Internal quality control (IQC) and external quality assessment (EQA) are two distinct but complementary components of a laboratory quality improvement program. IQC ensures day-to-day laboratory consistency. EQA permits the identification of poor individual laboratory performance, as well as the detection of reagents, instruments and methods that produce unreliable or misleading results, by means of a retrospective analysis of data obtained by participating laboratories. Continuous participation in EQA schemes has been linked to improved laboratory performance.
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Quality Improvement Programs

A laboratory quality improvement program is designed to detect, reduce, and correct deficiencies in a laboratory's work process. It is defined as the set of operations, processes, and procedures which ensure that the right test is carried out on the right specimen and that the right result and right interpretation are delivered to the right person at the right time (Berte Lucia, 2007). These programs include organization principles and personnel requirements, quality assurance, laboratory environment safety and facilities, equipment and measuring systems, reagents and materials, analytical procedures, result reporting, and archiving of patient medical data (Berte Lucia, 2007). The development of a quality improvement program takes into account the pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical activities. Pre-analytical is the term that describes activities that occur before the time the sample arrives in the laboratory. Analytical is the term that describes activities that happen during the handling and analysis of the sample in the laboratory. Post-analytical is the term that describes activities that happen after a result is measured. All three phases are equally important, and each one includes factors that may directly influence the acceptability of a measurement result (Berte Lucia, 2007; Kirchner et al., 2007; Elston, 2008).

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