The health scenario of the country is changing rapidly due to changing disease patterns, technological developments, and patient-doctor expectations. Clinical laboratories play a very important role in the diagnostic phase of healthcare. More than 60 to 70 percent of the important decisions on the management of patient care (admission, discharge, and medication) are based on laboratory test results. Considering the increasing role of clinical laboratories in health care, quality, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and turnaround time of lab services have become very important parameters in the overall efficiency of health and medical care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the quality of laboratory as “accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of the reported test results.” The laboratory results must be as accurate, all aspects of the laboratory operations must be reliable and reporting must be timely. It is clear from the definition that the laboratory quality comprises timely reporting in addition to accuracy and reliability.
The performance of a clinical laboratory is assessed by the turnaround time for giving reliable test results. Any delay in giving test results or unreliable results could have adverse implications on the patient’s health.
Rapid diagnosis and interventions are required for good patient outcomes, especially in critical care patients. Delayed laboratory test reports are disruptive to the orderly triage and flow of patients through evidence-based protocols, especially protocols involving critical care. It has been found in many scientific studies that delayed laboratory results would be a rate-determining factor in the patient length of stay, not only in emergency departments but also during the routine hospital stay.
The life cycle of a lab test starts from the patient getting consultation from a clinician who requests for a test. Following this, the specimen is taken and transferred to the clinical laboratory where the analysis of the specimen is carried out and results are produced. These results are then communicated to the requesting clinician who interprets the results and elucidates the interpretation. Finally, the diagnosis and treatment decisions are made by the doctor considering the patient’s rights. Irrespective of the clinical setting, diagnosis can be improved when test results are communicated in a timely and reliable manner to the clinician who can provide follow-up care.
Evidence-based medicine includes three key components – scientific evidence, clinical expertise, and the patient’s needs and rights. Evidence in the form of clinical laboratory results, imaging sciences and physical examination forms the key component of patient management in any clinical setup. It plays a significant role in providing timely diagnosis and treatment. Delay in receiving clinical laboratory reports may result not only in catastrophic events but also causes a huge financial burden to the patient, increasing the overall cost of healthcare. Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is an approach to medical practice intended to optimize decision-making by emphasizing the use of evidence from well-designed and well-conducted research.
Considering the Indian scenario, facilities of state of the art clinical laboratory are restricted to metro cities and tier 2 cities. Even though there is tremendous development in the healthcare industry, smaller cities and towns are still deprived of these privileges due to lack of proper infrastructure. The presence of local clinical laboratories does not serve the intended purpose. Because most of these are operated by non-qualified personnel who are unaware of the importance of laboratory results which makes a huge difference in the clinical decision, thus ultimately affecting patient care. Local laboratories lack the necessary certified instrumentation, qualified and trained workforce making the results of these laboratories of questionable quality.
Considering the rapidly changing healthcare industry, clinicians from these areas still have to depend upon the mercy of laboratories located in metro cities even for basic clinical decisions. This causes delivery of quality healthcare a difficult task not only in emergencies but also in routine outpatient setups. In addition to the problem of delayed reports, the results from these laboratories are highly susceptible to a number of errors including missing specimen, mismatched specimen, improper transportation of clinical laboratory specimens to urban areas under compromised conditions contributing to erroneous laboratory reports which ultimately transmits as errors in diagnosis and patient management.
In order to bridge the gaps in healthcare delivery in such areas, efficient clinical laboratory services need to be built up. These laboratories should be managed by qualified and well-trained professionals that can assure customer-oriented quality services. The main focus of these laboratories is to give results which are
This fulfills the minimum criteria defined by the WHO regarding quality in the clinical lab.
In addition to these, the laboratory should have an effective quality management system according to international guidelines consisting of the documented procedure, records of technical activities, complaint procedure to comply with customer satisfaction and stakeholders that include clinicians, patients, insurance agencies and corporate clients.
These laboratories are not only to provide evidence for the diagnosis and treatment of patients but also to provide preventive health check-up facilities for the population in these areas where it is a relatively alien concept.
We the Meenakshi Labs, are venturing to provide clinical laboratory services to our stakeholders which are reliable, accurate and as fast as possible with the help of state of the art instrumentation operated by trained and qualified workforce following standard documented procedure according to international guidelines. Meenakshi Labs will be delivering its services as per the customer’s needs. Meenakshi Labs will not only cater to clinicians by providing laboratory tests for diagnosis and treatment but will also provide comprehensive preventive health check-up facilities for the population.