Laboratory tests are amongst the most important aspects of modern medicine; more than 70% of diagnoses in the NHS involve Pathology, making it an essential part of healthcare.
Medical professionals rely on the test results to help diagnose a wide range of conditions and to help monitor the response to treatment.
The management of the directorate will ensure that all measures are taken to provide an assurance to the users of the service provided, that the quality of the diagnostic data created by the individual laboratories within it (Blood Transfusion, Haematology, Clinical Chemistry, Cellular Pathology, Microbiology, Virology, Anticoagulation Services and Mortuary Services), is of the highest professional standard possible.
It will do this through the rigorous application of an Integrated Quality Assurance Management System (IQAMS) and the monitoring of the relevant Trust, national and international standards relevant to the provision of a diagnostic laboratory service.
How do I know the laboratory has got my test results right?
There are many processes in place to ensure that laboratories do produce reliable, accurate and precise results. These have been instituted by the Government, the Department of Health, laboratory professional organisations and individual laboratories themselves to ensure that quality standards are maintained, for example;
Our laboratories are assessed by United Kingdom Accreditation Status (UKAS) to the internationally recognised ISO 15189:2012 standard. Haematology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Cellular Pathology are all UKAS accredited medical laboratories. (Nos 8868, 8866, 8868, 9009).
The accreditation is run by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) and inspects laboratories on a regular basis. This is a very thorough review of the processes in each pathology discipline undertaken by that laboratory. This approach applies to all laboratories, whether they are part of the NHS or private.
Pathology laboratories make considerable efforts to ensure their results are correct. Like other industries, they undertake quality control measures and compare their results with other laboratories undertaking the same type of test.
All departments participate in External Quality Assurance schemes or EQA. Most EQA is organised on a national basis, so laboratories can compare their results with others (up to about 200 for some tests) and with laboratories using the same test methods and equipment.
The laboratory’s performance is monitored by the relevant EQA body. If there is ongoing poor performance, the EQA body will contact the laboratory, identify the problem, and help to overcome any issues. If this fails to generate improvements, the organiser will report the matter to the Royal College of Pathologists.
In order to provide Pathology services which meet or exceed the needs and requirements of its service users and patients, the laboratory management team is fully committed to achieving continual quality improvement in all areas of the laboratory.
We are able to do this through a variety of means such as;
- Incident reporting
- Learning from incidents
- Trend analysis
- Quality management training
- Service user and patient surveys
- Training and competency assessment
- Control of change.