Groups join to offer lab accreditation services

Also, a new method for custom proficiency testing

Clinical laboratories will have a new method for measuring proficiency and demonstrating that they have met quality standards, under a new accreditation plan announced recently by the American Proficiency Institute (API) in Traverse City, MI; the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) in Chicago; and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

API is a nonprofit corporation providing proficiency testing services to more than 11,000 laboratories nationwide, including hospital-based, clinical, and physician-office laboratories. ASCP is a nonprofit medical specialty society representing 151,000 members, including board-certified pathologists, other physicians, clinical scientists (PhDs), medical technologists, and technicians. It is the world’s largest organization representing pathology and laboratory medicine.

The three groups announced a collaborative relationship to offer, as an option, a combined package of laboratory accreditation services, customized proficiency testing, and technological and scientific educational services.

Laboratories will be able to integrate menu-driven, web-based API proficiency testing that meets Joint Commission accreditation requirements and participate in ASCP technological and scientific educational programs that are uniquely designed for customer needs.

Through this collaborative effort, the expertise of pathologists, skilled medical technologist surveyors, and an experienced proficiency testing provider will be integrated into the Joint Com-mission survey process, says Daniel Edson, president of API.

Such collaboration would meet the needs of laboratories by offering reduced costs, improved service, new educational opportunities and enhanced surveyor expertise in a one-stop, coordinated fashion, he says.

"With this new accreditation program, laboratory professionals are able to customize and pay for only the proficiency testing services they need," Edson says. "They could then report and access the proficiency testing results from a secure web site when it is convenient for them."

Laboratories also would be enrolled in a portfolio of technological and scientific education programs that are tailored to the relevant needs of accredited laboratories, says E. Eugene Baillie, MD, FASCP, president of ASCP.

Baillie says the leaders of the three groups hope that in the future, Joint Commission surveyors could review the API proficiency testing results prior to survey, instead of searching for them on-site. That method would save time and enable more on-site discussion and education, he says.