Quality Improvement in Clinical Laboratories: A Six Sigma Concept

Jawahar (Jay) Kalra* and Ashish Kopargaonkar

Quality Improvement in Clinical Laboratories: A Six Sigma Concept.

The quality of healthcare is an emerging concern worldwide. The term “Quality” has
been appropriately defined and fairly well understood. However, many problems in delivering
quality healthcare persist and these require urgent attention and solutions. An industrial grade
quality performance is still a distant dream in the healthcare sector.

There are a variety of reasons for this, chiefly the complexity of medicine and disease itself. An error rate as high as 9.36% has been reported in clinical laboratories. These errors mainly occur in the pre-analytical stage of testing.

Modern quality management tools like the six sigma concept offer realistic solutions to reach practical levels of perfection. The response of clinical diagnostic laboratories has been very slow in adopting these techniques to improve the quality of a process.

It is imperative that healthcare in general and clinical diagnostic laboratories in particular promote
and develop a culture of safety with the aid of modern quality management tools.

The quality of healthcare is an emerging concern worldwide and this is particularly true of practice in North America. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report ‘To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System’ released in 1999 estimated 44,000-98,000 deaths in United States of America every year resulting from medical error, a prime manifestation of inadequate quality of care.

This epoch making report promoted wide spread public outcry regarding the state of healthcare in the United States of America. We have previously reviewed the systemic nature of medical errors and their prevalence in critical sectors of healthcare including clinical diagnostic laboratories, emergency medicine and intensive care units.

The quality of healthcare has been a primary concern of many Governments worldwide.

Pathol Lab Med Open J. 2016; 1(1): 11-20. doi: 10.17140/PLMOJ-1-104