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Arch Hellen Med, 24(1), January-February 2007, 58-78


The qualitative evaluation of laboratory results

Laboratory of Clinical Microbiology and Biochemistry, “Polykliniki” General Hospital, Athens, Greece

The significant progress made over the last decades in medicine, along with the explosion of information technology and biotechnology have led to the swift growth in laboratory techniques including use of new analyzers and new examinations and methods. However, the production and transmission of so much information for the patient presupposes correct processes and communication in the laboratory, so that information can be reached easily and quickly and is acceptable and reliable, in order to be of use. The main obligation of laboratories is, without doubt, the reliability control of laboratory results. The alteration of funding methods of medical services and the fact that quality is not usually proved, may have major consequences, not only legal but also financial. The validity of the results cannot be considered as a fact and it must be demonstrated that the results are reliable. Quality assurance systems and accreditation certify the technical sufficiency of the laboratory and can improve its organization and the quality of the services provided. This helps in improving the reliability of analyses, aiming at the improvement of health care overall. The existence of programs and procedures that can check, evaluate, locate and correct mistakes of laboratory results are consequently necessary. The term “quality assurance” means policy processes and all the constant actions made in order to maintain a high degree of confidence in the accuracy and precision of the results during the pre-analytic, analytic and post-analytic phases of laboratory practice. In order to achieve this goal, constant and laborious effort is need by everyone involved in the process of producing laboratory results. The reliability testing of results can take place in two ways: internal control of quality that takes place daily, within the laboratory, and external quality assessment, made by an independent separate institution.

Key words: Accreditation, Accuracy, Laboratory results, Precision, Quality control, Systematic errors.

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