Original Research

The impact of SLMTA in improving laboratory quality systems in the Caribbean Region

Giselle Guevara, Floris Gordon, Yvette Irving, Ismae Whyms, Keith Parris, Songee Beckles, Talkmore Maruta, Nqobile Ndlovu, Rachel Albalak, George Alemnji
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 3, No 2 | a199 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v3i2.199 | © 2014 Giselle Guevara, Floris Gordon, Yvette Irving, Ismae Whyms, Keith Parris, Songee Beckles, Talkmore Maruta, Nqobile Ndlovu, Rachel Albalak, George Alemnji | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 May 2014 | Published: 03 November 2014

About the author(s)

Giselle Guevara, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caribbean Regional Office, Barbados
Floris Gordon, African Field Epidemiology Network, Caribbean Office
Yvette Irving, African Field Epidemiology Network, Caribbean Office
Ismae Whyms, Princess Margaret Hospital, Bahamas
Keith Parris, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caribbean Regional Office, Barbados
Songee Beckles, Ladymeade Reference Unit, Barbados
Talkmore Maruta, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Botswana
Nqobile Ndlovu, African Field Epidemiology Network, Uganda
Rachel Albalak, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caribbean Regional Office, Barbados
George Alemnji, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caribbean Regional Office, Barbados


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Abstract

Background: Past efforts to improve laboratory quality systems and to achieve accreditation for better patient care in the Caribbean Region have been slow.

Objective: To describe the impact of the Strengthening of Laboratory Management Toward Accreditation (SLMTA) training programme and mentorship amongst five clinical laboratories in the Caribbean after 18 months.

Method: Five national reference laboratories from four countries participated in the SLMTA programme that incorporated classroom teaching and implementation of improvement projects. Mentors were assigned to the laboratories to guide trainees on their improvement projects and to assist in the development of Quality Management Systems (QMS). Audits were conducted at baseline, six months, exit (at 12 months) and post-SLMTA (at 18 months) using the Stepwise Laboratory Quality Improvement Process Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA) checklist to measure changes in implementation of the QMS during the period. At the end of each audit, a comprehensive implementation plan was developed in order to address gaps.

Results: Baseline audit scores ranged from 19% to 52%, corresponding to 0 stars on the SLIPTA five-star scale. After 18 months, one laboratory reached four stars, two reached three stars and two reached two stars. There was a corresponding decrease in nonconformities and development of over 100 management and technical standard operating procedures in each of the five laboratories.

Conclusion: The tremendous improvement in these five Caribbean laboratories shows that SLMTA coupled with mentorship is an effective, user-friendly, flexible and customisable approach to the implementation of laboratory QMS. It is recommended that other laboratories in the region consider using the SLMTA training programme as they engage in quality systems improvement and preparation for accreditation.


Keywords

SLMTA; Quality Management Systems; Accreditation

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