Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

Editor-in-Chief: Plebani, Mario

Ed. by Gillery, Philippe / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Payne, Deborah A. / Schlattmann, Peter / Tate, Jillian R.

12 Issues per year


IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 3.432

CiteScore 2016: 2.21

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 1.000
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 1.112

Online
ISSN
1437-4331
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 52, Issue 7

Issues

Harmonization of quality indicators in laboratory medicine. A preliminary consensus

Mario Plebani
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Padua University-Hospital, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Michael L. Astion / Julian H. Barth / Wenxiang Chen / César A. de Oliveira Galoro / Mercedes Ibarz Escuer / Agnes Ivanov / Warren G. Miller / Penny Petinos / Laura Sciacovelli
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Padua University-Hospital, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, University-Hospital, Padua, Italy
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Wilson Shcolnik
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Padua University-Hospital, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy
  • Brazilian Society of Clinical Pathology/Laboratory Medicine, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ana-Maria Simundic
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Padua University-Hospital, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy
  • Clinical Department of Chemistry University Hospital Center “Sestre Milosrdnice”, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Zorica Sumarac
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Padua University-Hospital, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy
  • Center for Medical Biochemistry, Clinical Center of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2014-03-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cclm-2014-0142

Abstract

Quality indicators (QIs) are fundamental tools for enabling users to quantify the quality of all operational processes by comparing it against a defined criterion. QIs data should be collected over time to identify, correct, and continuously monitor defects and improve performance and patient safety by identifying and implementing effective interventions. According to the international standard for medical laboratories accreditation, the laboratory shall establish and periodically review QIs to monitor and evaluate performance throughout critical aspects of pre-, intra-, and post-analytical processes. However, while some interesting programs on indicators in the total testing process have been developed in some countries, there is no consensus for the production of joint recommendations focusing on the adoption of universal QIs and common terminology in the total testing process. A preliminary agreement has been achieved in a Consensus Conference organized in Padua in 2013, after revising the model of quality indicators (MQI) developed by the Working Group on “Laboratory Errors and Patient Safety” of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC). The consensually accepted list of QIs, which takes into consideration both their importance and applicability, should be tested by all potentially interested clinical laboratories to identify further steps in the harmonization project.

Keywords: harmonization; patient safety; post-analytical phase; pre-analytical phase; quality indicators; total testing process

Introduction

Laboratory testing is an integral part of modern medicine as it impacts patient management regarding both screening, early diagnosis, prognosis, appropriate treatment and monitoring [1]. Assessing the quality of medical laboratories has become increasingly important not only for pressures to reduce costs, but also for the evidence of testing-related diagnostic errors [2]. It has been demonstrated that performance and outcome measures improve the quality of patient care [3]. In particular, quality indicators (QIs) represent valuable tools for quantifying the quality of selected aspects of care by comparing it against a defined criterion. QIs therefore may support accountability, help to make judgements and set priorities, enabling comparison over time between providers and the effectiveness of interventions [4]. Laboratory medicine is one of the most dynamic discipline of the health care system and the dramatic decrease in the analytical error rates achieved in the last decades is due, at least in part, to the development and implementation of valuable QIs and quality specifications for the effective management of analytical procedures [5]. Current evidence, however, emphasizes the vulnerability of pre- and post-analytical phases of the total testing process (TTP) which, in turn, translates into risk for patient safety [6].

According to the last version of the international standard for clinical laboratory accreditation (ISO 15189: 2012) “quality indicators can measure how well an organization meets the needs and requirements of users and the quality of all operational processes” [7]. In addition, the document specifies that “the laboratory shall establish QIs to monitor and evaluate performance throughout critical aspects of pre-examination, examination and post-examination processes”. Clinical laboratories can now measure, monitor and improve their analytic performances over time thanks to internal quality control rules, objective analytical quality specifications, and proficiency testing (PT)/external quality assessment (EQA) programs, which have provided clinical laboratories with a valuable benchmark based on objective data. The identification of reliable QIs in the TTP is therefore a key step in enabling users to quantify the quality of laboratory services, but the current lack of attention to extra-laboratory factors is in stark contrast with the numerous studies on the multitude of errors that continue to occur in the pre- and post-analytical phase. In the last decade, interesting programs on indicators of the extra-analytical phases have been developed in some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand [8], Brazil [9], and Catalonia [10], and other surveys and programs have been promoted in the UK [11, 12], in China and Croatia [13].

However, there is no consensus for the production of joint recommendations focusing on the adoption of universal QIs and common terminology in the TTP [14].

In 2008 the IFCC launched a working group named “Laboratory Errors and Patient Safety” (WG LEPS), its primary goal being to identify a list of valuable QIs and related quality specifications to be used as a benchmark between different laboratories around the world and to promote the reduction or errors in the TTP as well as an improvement in quality and patient safety. The preliminary model of quality indicators (MQI) has been developed, evaluated by some voluntary laboratories at an international level and preliminary results reported [15]. As a further step of this initiative, the WG LEPS has organized a Consensus Conference to design a road map for the harmonization of QIs. The conference, held in Padua on 24 October, 2013 and titled “Harmonization of quality indicators: why, how and when?” aimed to bring together all experts and interested parties and to find a preliminary consensus on the steps towards harmonization of QIs.

Here we report the main results of the conference in order to spread the information to all possible interested individuals and organizations, and to promote further efforts to harmonizing QIs in laboratory medicine.

The conference organization: background and preliminary work

Although the invited experts have been aware of the state-of-the-art of QIs in laboratory medicine, a series of preliminary documents and questions have been circulated among all invited delegates to achieve a preliminary consensus on terminology, rationale, purpose of each and all QIs. It should be highlighted that the different steps required to develop and test QIs previously described [16–18] have been carefully followed.

In particular, as concerns laboratory medicine, since a variety of QIs and terminology are currently used. Therefore, the path towards harmonization should be based on sound criteria, and in particular, a consensus has been achieved regarding the main characteristics of QIs. In particular, they should be: 1) patient-centered to promote total quality and patient safety; 2) consistent with the definition of “laboratory error” which has been specified in the ISO/TS 22367: 2008 [19] and conducive to addressing all stages of the TTP, from initial pre-pre-analytical steps (test request and patient/sample identification) to post-post-analytical steps (acknowledgment of data communication, appropriate result interpretation and utilization); 3) consistent with the requirements of the ISO 15189: 2012 [7].

In addition, essential pre-requisites of QIs, as measurable and objective tools, appear to be: 1) importance and applicability to a wide range of clinical laboratories at an international level; 2) scientific soundness with a focus on areas of great importance for quality in laboratory medicine; 3) the definition of evidence-based thresholds for acceptable performance; and 4) timeliness and possible utilization as a measure of laboratory improvement.

Another fundamental issue is the awareness that the process of harmonization of QIs consists of two compulsory steps: the identification of common QIs and a standardized reporting system. While the identification of harmonized and universal QIs seems to be the “core” issue, standardization of systems for data collection and reporting represent critical steps towards effective harmonization initiatives [17]. After discussing a preliminary document, and answering to a series of related questions, all experts did agree to work on the revision of currently available QIs, starting from the already described IFCC MQI [15], taking into consideration the relevance of each QI, its generalizability and applicability by clinical laboratories from different countries. All speakers accepted to present their experience on QIs focusing on the main advantages and limitations of their experiences, as well as on eventual agreement and disagreement with the IFCC WG LEPS program.

Results

Revised list of QIs

The QI chart (Table 1) developed by IFCC LEPS was presented as a means of harmonizing measurement of TTP. This list contains a comprehensive series of QIs, covering all steps of the TTP, that have been considered to be applicable to all laboratories despite their complexity, technological level, and need of close interaction with clinicians and other healthcare staff. This was considered to be too ambitious as a first step and a priority score (1 is the highest priority) was performed to determine the critical QI that could be used as an initial international survey. For each QI, the reporting system has been simplified to allow homogeneous data collection and reporting. Each attendee agreed to pilot this error analysis in a number of laboratories in their country.

Table 1

List of QIs (order of priority: 1, mandatory; 2, important; 3, suggested; 4, valuable).

Definitions

Table 2 reports the proposed definitions of all QIs and some examples to allow a better comprehension of the meaning of each indicator to interested laboratory professionals.

Table 2

Some definitions about QIs with priority 1.

Documents

In the IFCC WG LEPS website (www.ifcc-mqi.com) interested professionals may find the program of the Consensus Conference, the list of QIs, and questionnaire on the feasibility of data collection for the selected QIs.

Further steps

Further steps of the harmonization project are: 1) testing of the revised list of QIs by clinical laboratories that are already involved in existing programs to collect data during a 6-month period, and establishing preliminary quality specifications of the individual QI; 2) collect data on the proposed questionnaire by potentially interested clinical laboratories that up to now have no experience in the management of QIs; 3) organize a further Consensus Conference for discussing the results (steps 1 and 2) in order to better understand the feasibility of data collection for all QIs by clinical laboratories operating at an international level and in different countries.

Conclusions

Indicators for performance and outcome measurement allow the quality of care and services to be measured and provide a quantitative basis for interested parties aiming to achieve improvement in care and processes by which patient care and services are provided. The measurement and monitoring of QIs in laboratory medicine serve many purposes: 1) document the quality of the service provided; 2) improve performance and patient safety; 3) make comparison (benchmarking) over time between laboratories; 4) make judgments and set priorities (corrective actions to be performed); and 5) support accountability, quality improvement and accreditation.

In particular, the implementation and revision of QIs represent fundamental requirements of the ISO 15189: 2012 [7]. This document recognizes the need to assure quality in all aspects of the TTP, from the “pre-pre-analytical” phase (“Right test choice at the Right time on the Right patient”) through analytical steps (“Right results in the Right form”) to the post-post-analytical” phase (“Right interpretation with the Right advice as to what to do next with the result”) [20]. QIs, therefore, should cover all aspects of the TTP, including the evaluation of the appropriateness of test request and result interpretation [21]. However, the harmonization of currently available QIs should take into consideration also the feasibility by all potentially interested clinical laboratories around the world of data collection and reporting. Therefore, the experts participating at the Consensus Conference did agree to revise existing QIs at the light of both their importance and applicability.

As quality is a never-ending journey, the implementation and adoption of QIs should be viewed as dynamic process, starting from a high priority QIs and moving toward a more sophisticated level which necessitates of a close interaction between laboratory professionals and other healthcare operators.

Conflict of interest statement

Authors’ conflict of interest disclosure: The authors stated that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

References

  • 1.

    Plebani M, Laposata M, Lundberg GD. The brain-to-brain loop concept for laboratory testing 40 years after its introduction. Am J Clin Pathol 2011;136:829–33.PubMedWeb of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 2.

    Epner PL, Gans JE, Graber ML. When diagnostic testing leads to harm: a new outcomes-based approach for laboratory medicine. BMJ Qual Saf 2013;22(Suppl 2):ii6–10.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 3.

    Mainz J, Krog BR, Bjornshave B. Nationwide continuous quality improvement using quality indicators: the Danish National Indicator Project. Int J Qual Health Care 2004;16(Suppl 1): i45–50.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 4.

    Mainz J. Defining and classifying clinical indicators for quality improvement. Int J Qual Health Care 2003;15:523–30.PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 5.

    Plebani M, Sciacovelli L, Marinova M, Marcuccitti J, Chiozza ML. Quality indicators in laboratory medicine: a fundamental tool for quality and patient safety. Clin Biochem 2013;46:1170–4.PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 6.

    Plebani M. The detection and prevention of errors in laboratory medicine. Ann Clin Biochem 2010;47:101–10.PubMedWeb of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 7.

    ISO 15189:2012. Medical laboratories – requirements for quality and competence. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization, 2012.Google Scholar

  • 8.

    Khoury M, Burnett L, Mackay M. Error rate in Australian chemical pathology laboratories. Med J Aust 1996;165:128–30.Google Scholar

  • 9.

    Shcolnik W, de Oliveira CA, de São José AS, de Oliveira Galoro CA, Plebani M, Burnett D. Brazilian laboratory indicators program. Clin Chem Lab Med 2012;50:1923–34.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 10.

    Kirchner MJ, Funes VA, Adzet CB, Clar MV, Escuer MI, Girona JM, et al. Quality indicators and specifications for key processes in clinical laboratories: a preliminary experience. Clin Chem Lab Med 2007;45:672–7.PubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 11.

    Barth JH. Selecting clinical quality indicators for laboratory medicine. Ann Clin Biochem 2012;49:257–61.PubMedCrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 12.

    Barth JH. Clinical quality indicators in laboratory medicine. Ann Clin Biochem 2012;49:9–16.PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 13.

    Simundic AM, Topic E. Quality indicators. Biochem Med 2008;18:311–9.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 14.

    Plebani M, Sciacovelli L, Lippi G. Quality indicators for laboratory diagnostics: consensus is needed. Ann Clin Biochem 2011;48:479.Web of SciencePubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • 15.

    Sciacovelli L, O’Kane M, Skaik YA, Caciagli P, Pellegrini C, Da Rin G, et al. IFCC WG-LEPS. Quality indicators in laboratory medicine: from theory to practice. Preliminary data from the IFCC Working Group Project “Laboratory errors and patient safety”. Clin Chem Lab Med 2011;49:835–44.Google Scholar

  • 16.

    Mainz J. Developing evidence-based clinical indicators: a state of the art methods primer. Int J Qual Health Care 2003;15 (Suppl 1):i5–11.Google Scholar

  • 17.

    Plebani M, Chiozza ML, Sciacovelli L. Towards harmonization of quality indicators in laboratory medicine. Clin Chem Lab Med 2013;51:187–95.PubMedGoogle Scholar

  • 18.

    Plebani M, Sciacovelli L, Aita A, Padoan A, Chiozza ML. Quality indicators to detect pre-analytical errors in laboratory testing. Clin Chim Acta 2013 Sep 5. [Epub ahead of print].Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 19.

    ISO/PDTS 22367:2008. Medical laboratories – reducing error through risk management and continual improvement. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization, 2008.Google Scholar

  • 20.

    Tate JR, Johnson R, Barth J, Panteghini M. Harmonization of laboratory testing – current achievements and future strategies. Clin Chim Acta 2013 Aug 31. [Epub ahead of print].Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 21.

    Plebani M, Sciacovelli L, Aita A, Chiozza ML. Harmonization of pre-analytical quality indicators. Biochem Med 2014;24: 105–13.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Corresponding author: Mario Plebani, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Padua University-Hospital, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy, Phone: + 39 049 8212792, Fax: + 39 049 663240, E-mail:


Received: 2014-02-10

Accepted: 2014-02-11

Published Online: 2014-03-13

Published in Print: 2014-07-01


Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), Volume 52, Issue 7, Pages 951–958, ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cclm-2014-0142.

Export Citation

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

[1]
Ada Aita, Laura Sciacovelli, and Mario Plebani
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2017, Volume 0, Number 0
[2]
Jeffrey M. Conroy, Sarabjot Pabla, Sean T. Glenn, Blake Burgher, Mary Nesline, Antonios Papanicolau-Sengos, Jonathan Andreas, Vincent Giamo, Felicia L. Lenzo, Fiona C.L. Hyland, Angela Omilian, Wiam Bshara, Moachun Qin, Ji He, Igor Puzanov, Marc S. Ernstoff, Mark Gardner, Lorenzo Galluzzi, and Carl Morrison
The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 2017
[3]
Yang Fei, Haijian Zhao, Wei Wang, Falin He, Kun Zhong, Shuai Yuan, and Zhiguo Wang
Biochemia Medica, 2017, Volume 27, Number 3
[4]
Laura Sciacovelli, Mauro Panteghini, Giuseppe Lippi, Zorica Sumarac, Janne Cadamuro, César Alex De Olivera Galoro, Isabel Garcia Del Pino Castro, Wilson Shcolnik, and Mario Plebani
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2017, Volume 55, Number 10
[5]
Elvar Theodorsson and Bertil Magnusson
Accreditation and Quality Assurance, 2017
[6]
Giuseppe Lippi and Ana-Maria Simundic
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2017, Volume 0, Number 0
[7]
Attila Bezzegh, Ildikó Takács, and Éva Ajzner
Clinical Biochemistry, 2017, Volume 50, Number 10-11, Page 612
[8]
Xiaoyan Zhang, Yang Fei, Wei Wang, Haijian Zhao, Minqi Wang, Bingquan Chen, Jie Zhou, and Zhiguo Wang
Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis, 2017, Page e22251
[9]
Kathleen P. Freeman, Randolph M. Baral, Navneet K. Dhand, Søren Saxmose Nielsen, and Asger L. Jensen
Veterinary Clinical Pathology, 2017, Volume 46, Number 2, Page 211
[10]
Elisabet González Lao, Ángel Salas García, Marta Buxeda Figuerola, Ester Moreno, and Ariadna Hernández Paraire
Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2017, Volume 05, Number 03, Page 243
[11]
Laura Sciacovelli, Ada Aita, and Mario Plebani
Clinical Biochemistry, 2017, Volume 50, Number 10-11, Page 632
[12]
Giuseppe Lippi, Laura Chiozza, Camilla Mattiuzzi, and Mario Plebani
Journal of Medical Biochemistry, 2017, Volume 36, Number 2
[13]
[14]
Michael P Cornes, Stephen Church, Edmée van Dongen-Lases, Kjell Grankvist, João T Guimarães, Mercedes Ibarz, Svetlana Kovalevskaya, Gunn BB Kristensen, Giuseppe Lippi, Mads Nybo, Ludek Sprongl, Zorica Sumarac, and Ana-Maria Simundic
Annals of Clinical Biochemistry, 2016, Volume 53, Number 5, Page 539
[15]
Mario Plebani, Laura Sciacovelli, and Ada Aita
Clinics in Laboratory Medicine, 2017, Volume 37, Number 1, Page 187
[16]
Rosa Ruiz Morer, Mercè Ibarz, M. Antonia Llopis, Alicia Martínez-Iribarren, Carmen Biosca, Núria Serrat Orús, M.a Isabel Llovet, Glòria Busquets Soria, Virtudes Álvarez Funes, Joana Minchinela, M.a Mercedes Montesinos Costa, and Margarida Simon
Revista del Laboratorio Clínico, 2016, Volume 9, Number 4, Page 147
[17]
María Dolores Formoso Lavandeira, Verónica Parrillas Horche, Silvia Izquierdo Álvarez, Itziar Marzana Sanz, Francisco Antonio Bernabeu Andreu, María del Patrocinio Chueca Rodríguez, Teresa Contreras Sanfeliciano, Félix Gascón Luna, María Libòria López Yeste, and Fernando Marqués García
Revista del Laboratorio Clínico, 2016, Volume 9, Number 4, Page 189
[18]
Mario Plebani
Clinical Biochemistry, 2017, Volume 50, Number 3, Page 101
[19]
Vanja Radišić Biljak, Sandra Božičević, Maja Krhač, and Marijana Vučić Lovrenčić
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2016, Volume 54, Number 11
[20]
Man-Gil Yang, Won Ho Lee, and Jin Hyun Jun
Korean Journal of Clinical Laboratory Science, 2016, Volume 48, Number 2, Page 158
[21]
Nora Nikolac, Ivana Celap, Petra Filipi, Marina Hemar, Marija Kocijancic, Marijana Miler, Ana-Maria Simundic, Vesna Supak Smolcic, and Alen Vrtaric
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2016, Volume 54, Number 3
[22]
David Remona Eliza and Dobreanu Minodora
Acta Medica Marisiensis, 2015, Volume 61, Number 4
[23]
Fengfeng Kang, Wei Wang, and Zhiguo Wang
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2015, Volume 53, Number 11
[24]
Mario Plebani, Laura Sciacovelli, Ada Aita, Michela Pelloso, and Maria Laura Chiozza
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), 2015, Volume 53, Number 6
[25]
Tze Ping Loh and Sunil K Sethi
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2015, Volume 24, Number 19-20, Page 2900
[26]
Giuseppe Lippi, Iole Caola, Gianfranco Cervellin, Bruno Milanesi, Margherita Morandini, and Davide Giavarina
Clinica Chimica Acta, 2015, Volume 445, Page 91
[27]
Mario Plebani
North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 2014, Volume 6, Number 5, Page 229

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in