Niagara, ON - The Niagara Health System has been awarded five-year accreditation by Ontario Laboratory Accreditation (OLA), the maximum accreditation possible. The survey was led by a group of nine external surveyors in late October 2007 and the recent Accreditation Certificate from OLA signals that all requirements have been met successfully. The Certificate is in effect until Feb. 23, 2013.
"We scored 100% compliance in the sections of quality management and post-analytical reporting," said Debbie Sevenpifer, President and CEO. "This validates that the clinical and technical services provided by our laboratories to our patients is of high quality." Last year (April 2006 to March 2007), NHS laboratories carried out 3,059,364 tests.
OLA is part of the quality management program for laboratory services developed by the Ontario Medical Association and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Each of the NHS's six hospital laboratories was evaluated on 450 individual requirements or standards over five days. As a multi-site organization, the NHS has standardized practices for all laboratory sites to provide the same level of quality service.
The surveyors had high praise for the level of knowledge and expertise of all levels of the laboratory medical and professional staff, commenting that "the staff are participating at a level of quality improvement not normally seen by the surveyors and there is strong communication within the laboratory".
"A five-year accreditation award for a multi-site organization is a very high achievement," said Frank Demizio, Vice President Clinical Services for the Laboratory Program. "In fact, we exceeded the standards in a number of areas. The surveyors noted that most laboratories are struggling to meet the standards but we have established policies and procedures that surpass the requirements."
"Our quality program focuses on all factors of laboratory testing – from the moment a laboratory test is ordered, during sample collection and testing, to the result reporting phases," Dr. Suhas Joshi, NHS Chief Pathologist and Regional Director for Laboratories, said. "We also provide training, continuing education and competency assessment programs for staff.
"We are firmly committed to maintaining and enhancing our laboratory quality program so that we continue to provide quality laboratory services to assist physicians and other health care professionals in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease," said Dr Joshi. "We participate in external and internal quality initiatives and the result is reliable, quality and safe patient care."
The functions of medical laboratories are wide-ranging and include the following:
- Clinical chemistry: Measurement of chemical components including hormones and drugs in blood and body fluids. Common test: Blood glucose (blood sugar) test to diagnose and monitor diabetes.
- Clinical microbiology: Study of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites that invade the body. Common test: Throat swab to detect strep throat.
- Diagnostic cytology: Study of cells for the detection of cancer. Common test: Pap test to detect cervical cancer.
- Hematology: Study of diseases of blood cells and clotting mechanisms of blood. Common tests: Hemoglobin test to detect anemia and Bone Marrow examination for leukemia and lymphoma.
- Surgical Pathology: Preparation and study of body tissue for the detection of disease. Common test: Biopsy of a breast lump to either confirm or rule out cancer.
- Transfusion Medicine: Determination of blood types. Common test: Cross-matching for blood transfusions.
"Every day, our Laboratory staff and pathologists are carrying out hundreds of tests for our patients," Dr. Joshi said. "I congratulate my colleagues on achieving such a high accreditation standing. Patient safety and quality testing is a priority and this accreditation award clearly demonstrates we are producing laboratory results at a consistently high standard to ensure our patients are getting accurate test results in a timely way."