Understanding the Cost of Quality in the Laboratory

The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) has published a new report — Understanding the Cost of Quality in the Laboratory (QMS20-R)—which focuses on understanding and managing the different types of quality costs that affect the laboratory. QMS20-R presents an initial approach laboratories can take to identify quality costs and remove unnecessary expense from laboratory processes.

Laboratories are cognisant of the quality of examination results and laboratory services they provide. Yet many non-management laboratory staff members are unaware of the quality of the laboratory's financial status, and believe that staying within budget is sufficient. This belief is problematic because every time work is redone, the cost of laboratory services—therefore, the cost of quality—increases. This report was created to help laboratories ensure they are producing the quality results at a reasonable cost.

“This report takes important information that has been published in business and industry literature for several years, but takes the laboratory approach to that information,” notes QMS20-R Chairholder Lucia M Berte, MT(ASCP)SBB, DLM; CQA(ASQ)CMQ/OE. “The cost of quality is important not only in the broad picture of health care, but also in the laboratory environment now, when costs are being squeezed and laboratories are always being asked to do more with less.”

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the different types of quality costs and how these costs can both support and detract from laboratory quality. It introduces the types of quality costs in laboratory expenditures, including prevention, appraisal, and internal and external failure. The document is applicable to medical laboratories of any size, complexity, or specialty.

This summer, look for a new online, self-paced eLearning programme based on QMS20-R called Implementing the Cost of Quality in the Laboratory. The modules in this program will help laboratories understand the basic concepts, identify the different costs, and calculate the costs of quality in the laboratory.  This is the only programme that truly implements the steps needed to determine the existing cost of quality in the laboratory, and it aims to help laboratories ensure quality results while decreasing existing costs. 

CLSI is a not-for-profit membership organisation that brings together the varied perspectives and expertise of the worldwide laboratory community for the advancement of a common cause: to foster excellence in laboratory medicine by developing and implementing clinical laboratory standards and guidelines that help laboratories fulfil their responsibilities with efficiency, effectiveness, and global applicability. 

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