Purpose – In Thailand nearly 1,000 public health laboratories serve 65 million people. A qualified indicator of a good quality laboratory is Thailand Medical Technology Council certification. Consequently, Chiang Rai Regional Medical Sciences Center established a development program for laboratory certification for 29 laboratories in the province. This paper seeks to examine this issue. Design/methodology/approach – The goal was to improve laboratory service quality by voluntary participation, peer review, training and compliance with standards. The program consisted of specific activities. Training and workshops to update laboratory staffs' quality management knowledge were organized. Staff in each laboratory performed a self‐assessment using a standard check‐list to evaluate ten laboratory management areas. Chiang Rai Regional Medical Sciences Center staff supported the distribution of quality materials and documents. They provided calibration services for laboratory equipment. Peer groups performed an internal audit and successful laboratories received Thailand Medical Technology Council certification. Findings – By December 2007, eight of the 29 laboratories had improved quality sufficiently to be certified. Factors that influenced laboratories' readiness for quality improvement included the number of staff, their knowledge, budget and staff commitment to the process. Moreover, the support of each hospital's laboratory working group or network was essential for success. Research limitations/implications – There was no clear policy for supporting the program . Laboratories voluntarily conducted quality management using existing resources. Practical implications – A bottom‐up approach to this kind of project can be difficult to accomplish. Laboratory professionals can work together to illustrate and highlight outcomes for top‐level health officials. A top‐down, practical approach would be much less difficult to implement. Originality/value – Quality certification is a critical step for laboratory staff, which also encourages them to aspire to international quality standards like ISO. The certification program is an important mechanism for addressing inadequate knowledge, budget, planning, policy and staff required to improve laboratory services.
International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 12, 2010
Keywords: Laboratories; Quality; Standards; Assessment; Thailand
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