When you visit a doctor for your treatment or health checkup, the doctor usually says, “I am advising you some blood tests, please visit me again with the reports of these tests”. These tests are done in a medical diagnostic laboratory. Depending on the type of the test, your specimen goes to specific department of laboratory.
Clinicians depend on laboratory tests for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy monitoring. Unlike other testing laboratories, medical diagnostic laboratory is different because it is relevant to human health and life. Reliability of this laboratory is one of the key points of patient care. Erroneous and incorrect laboratory test results may lead to wrong diagnosis, unnecessary or inappropriate treatment and delayed intervention. Underestimation of laboratory tests may also help to spread potential infectious microorganism. That may ultimately endanger health and life.
An acceptable standard quality and a quality management system can be developed in laboratory by a process of accreditation that guarantees accurate, reliable and trusted laboratory diagnosis.
Accreditation is a third party endorsement to ensure that a laboratory is competent to carry out tests reliably. To maintain this recognition, laboratories are re-evaluated regularly by a recognised accreditation body to ensure their continued compliance with requirements, and to check that their standard of operation is being maintained.
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has developed medical laboratory accreditation standard which is ISO 15189. There are many international and local accreditation bodies for standard laboratory practice. In our country it is Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB).
If we look at the scenario of Bangladesh, especially in private sector, hospitals and diagnostic centers are booming. There is also big number of government medical college/university hospitals, specialised hospitals etc. But what is the quality standard of these hospitals and diagnostic laboratories? DGHS operate mobile courts, but they are looking after very basic requirement of laboratory and not at the quality standard. With the modernisation of healthcare system there is tremendous development in quality standard globally.
To ensure patient safety, to reduce risk and to decrease cost of care there is no way other than laboratory accreditation. To control huge number of laboratories, to deal with quality, we need a national policy on quality laboratory operation and its implementation as well. Otherwise proper healthcare development may not be possible.
The writer is a Biochemist.