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Does Tech Support Believe You?

Published March 19, 2014 6:04 AM by Scott Warner

More times than I can count I’ve discovered a problem with an instrument because of an unexpected shift or trend in quality control, called tech support, and been told there isn’t a problem. Recently a hematology field service tech told our techs that a shift wasn’t a shift, and (basically) that none of us knew what we were looking at. He refused to do anything to the instrument, the shift persisted across all levels and patient results, and we ended up calling him back.

Quality control can be the first clue something is wrong, something techs who are used to reviewing thousands of points per year can be very sensitive to. It can be a range adjustment, it might be within the “package insert ranges,” and it could be nothing that affects patient results. Or just maybe a bench tech with decades of experience looking at QC knows perfectly well when something doesn’t look quite right.

I hear the same story over and over. “Tech says it’s within the package insert means,” or “They say our controls aren’t out yet,” or “They think it’s a range adjustment.” But they also aren’t standing in our lab running our tests.

Why doesn’t tech support believe techs?

There could be a wide range of understanding and competency in the field. It’s possible that many techs don’t pay a lot of attention to quality control or are enabled by micromanagers who insist on troubleshooting. Or it’s possible that some labs over-manage their quality control with too-narrow ranges that create extra work for everyone. Maybe, tech support just gets called when QC is out.

I doubt any of that happens often enough to justify a culture of disbelief. Just a guess, but maybe they are the ones not trained in the subtlety of quality control or are not familiar with what a significant shift or trend looks like in the real world.

Does tech support believe you? You know what you’re looking at. And if you’re wrong, well, no harm done.

NEXT: The S Word

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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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