Research Paper Impact of Laboratory Accreditation on Patient Care and the Health System (2010)
Accreditation is emerging as a preferred framework for building quality medical laboratory systems in resource-limited settings. Despite the low numbers of laboratories accredited at the time of the report, accreditation was identified as having the potential to improve the quality of health care for patients through the reduction of testing errors and attendant decreases in inappropriate treatment.Accredited laboratories can become more accountable and less dependent on external support. Efforts made to achieve accreditation may also lead to improvements in the management of laboratory networks by focusing attention on areas of greatest need and accelerating improvement in areas such as supply chain, training, and instrument maintenance. Laboratory accreditation may also have a positive influence on performance in other areas of health care systems by allowing laboratories to demonstrate high standards of service delivery. Accreditation may, thus, provide an effective mechanism for health system improvement yielding long-term benefits in the quality, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of public health programs. Further studies are needed to strengthen the evidence on the benefits of accreditation and to justify the resources needed to implement accreditation programs aimed at improving the performance of laboratory systems.