There are easier and cheaper ways to accredit a medical lab, but St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center has never settled for one of those options, said Carla Herl, administrative lab director. St. Rose has always sought the inspections of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), which recently renewed the lab’s accreditation.
“Since CAP has the most stringent requirements, it is the gold standard for accreditation; we welcome the on-site scrutiny of these professionals who inspect our lab. We have been CAP-accredited since the beginning,” Herl said, referring to the early days of what was then named Central Kansas Medical Center.
The lab passed the recent inspection with “flying colors,” Herl said, noting CAP requested a small amount of extra documentation.
While the figures can vary somewhat, St. Rose’s lab is one of only a few dozen in Kansas that have the CAP signature of approval. There are about 2,200 health-care labs in the state.
The inspection team consists of a half dozen lab professionals who volunteer their time. They include a pathologist, lab manager, technologists and technicians.
Formal CAP inspections occur every other year, but Herl noted the lab “self-inspects” during the off year. “We use the same checklists and treat it as a CAP inspection,” she said. “All of us want to ensure we are worthy of this accreditation every day.”
CAP’s checklists focus on chemistry, hematology, blood bank, microbiology and immunology. There are dozens of questions on each list that relate to safety, personnel, quality control, quality assurance, leadership and the facility itself.
Dr. Edward Jones, St. Rose’s pathologist and lab medical director, noted the CAP inspectors have only one goal – to ensure the lab meets all criteria.
“They have no other agenda,” Dr. Jones said. “CAP’s inspection program has been in operation since the early 1960s and they know exactly what to look for.”
Dr. Jones added that he and his colleagues also volunteer to help with CAP inspections at other facilities.
“I don’t know which we learn more from – inspections here or at other labs,” the pathologist said. “We pick up a lot of good ideas during both.”
Dr. Jones and Herl noted that “exceptional” employees are the backbone of the lab’s success. They include phlebotomists, lab technicians and technologists, and histology and cytology techs. Histology entails the examinations of tissues removed after surgery and cytology involves bodily fluids.
“Our lab employees can take pride in their work and patients can take comfort in knowing this great lab is here for all central Kansans,” Dr. Jones said. “We are always here to honor all physician requests.”
The CAP accreditation program is recognized by the federal government as being equal to or more stringent than its own inspection program, according to a CAP statement. The organization congratulated St. Rose “for the excellence of the services being provided.”
St. Rose has the only CAP-accredited lab within a 60-mile radius of Great Bend.