Healthcare and laboratory practices need to implement a high-quality management system to assure patient safety and provide reliable and precise results. This, in turn, will help in providing more accurate diagnoses. “Accreditation is an effective way to demonstrate competence of the laboratory, a tool to recognize laboratories world-wide, is linked to periodical audits to stimulate the maintenance and improvement of the quality, which leads to a high standard of services for clients (patients, health care providers, etc.)” (Zima, 2017, p. 231). “[A]ccreditation is usually a voluntary program in which trained external peer reviewers evaluate a healthcare organization’s compliance and compare it with pre-established performance standards” (Alkhenizan & Shaw, 2011, p. 407). For that reason, prestigious organizations try to have accreditations that give them more value/prestige. Having local and international accreditations lead to more power and recognition in the market in Saudi Arabia. Some local accreditations are mandatory.
“One of the greatest results of the accreditation experience … is the focus on staff training and development, and patient safety.”
Also, some international accreditations are required to enter the global market and grow healthcare organization business activities locally and overseas. Laboratories, like any other organization, work to have their accreditations either as part of the hospital accreditation or as part of a specialty area accreditation. Local and international accreditations active in Saudi Arabia provide healthcare organizations credibility regarding reliability, precision, quality, proficiency, and good, safe practice. In Saudi Arabia, hospitals and laboratories must have a license and permit. Also, there is the accreditation body here, which is the Saudi Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI). Examples of international accreditations in Saudi Arabia are the Joint Commission International (JCI) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards are less applied to healthcare and laboratory practice in Saudi Arabia.
The accreditation bodies active in Saudi Arabia have different philosophies and cover various areas of expertise. For example; the Saudi Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI) is “the official agency authorized to grant accreditation certificates to all governmental and private healthcare facilities operating today in Saudi Arabia” and “the principal function of CBAHI is to set the healthcare quality and patient safety standards against which all healthcare facilities are evaluated for evidence of compliance” (CBAHI, n.d.). Such accreditations, either local or international, play a role to monitor the medical practice and grant credibility for their medical practice following specific standards.
Accreditation leads to the development of hospital and laboratory policies and procedures that match the accreditation body standards; these standards are updated regularly.
CAP is the main laboratory accreditation body that Saudi medical laboratories are seeking. CAP accreditation provides an educational accreditation experience that leads to continued improvement and development. One of the greatest results of the accreditation experience, especially the CAP accreditation, is the focus on staff training and development, and patient safety.
As a laboratory leader, it would be desirable for other laboratory accreditation agencies to have standards focusing on staff education and development and patient safety. Requiring comprehensive quality assurance programs not only monitoring testing and quality control, but also including patient complaint documentation and review and improving overall laboratory systems would also be advantageous to laboratories.
Accreditation is a worthy goal but must include continuous quality improvement components and monitoring of all laboratory processes.
- Alkhenizan, A., & Shaw, C. (2011). Impact of accreditation on the quality of healthcare services: a systematic review of the literature. Annals of Saudi medicine, 31(4), 407–416. https://doi.org/10.4103/0256-4947.83204
- CBAHI. (n.d.). About CBAHI. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.cbahi.gov.sa/phcs/AboutUs.aspx
- Zima T. (2017). Accreditation of medical laboratories - system, process, benefits for labs. Journal of medical biochemistry, 36(3), 231–237. https://doi.org/10.1515/jomb-2017-0025
Aymen Alsaihati is a laboratory specialist, professional trainer, and public speaker in Saudi Arabia.