Laboratory Quality and the Maytag Repairman
A few weeks ago while shopping for a washing machine I found myself thinking about both the specifications and the quality of the product I wanted to buy. A quick internet search revealed numerous brands, some offering all sorts of amenities, including a Wi-Fi remote starter. Finally! I could start a load of laundry while enjoying a cup of coffee at the local cafe. Certainly, cost was a top priority as I searched, but what I really wanted in the end was to belong to the "I never want to see a repairman" club!
Shortly after that and very unexpectedly, I started thinking about the definition of quality and what quality means in healthcare, particularly in Laboratory Medicine. Every healthcare professional knows how intrinsic quality laboratory testing is to patient safety and patient care. Defining laboratory quality, however, can be an interesting task, and measuring it can resemble an exercise in chirality.
So what is it? And how do we measure it? Is it making sure that QC is within established limits? Or is it performing calibration as scheduled? Is it doing instrument maintenance as recommended? Is it having a robust QA plan or adhering to Accrediting Agencies' standards? Does it only pertain to the testing phases or does it extend beyond that? Or might it, perhaps, be guaranteed when passing inspections with flying colors?
At CRI we think about these questions every day in our quest to help drive Continuous Quality in the laboratories we serve. We believe that quality goes hand in hand with education, prevention, and continuous monitoring of processes, and for that reason we constantly strive to assist our customers achieve continuous quality. We see quality as an everyday process... not something that comes out in the wash!
What is your definition of quality and how is it measured in your laboratory?