Two faculty members of AACC’s Patient Safety Essentials for Laboratory Professionals online certificate program recently spoke with CLN Stat about how risk management and quality improvement strategies and effective personnel management can go a long way toward improving patient safety.

Drs. Michael Astion and Nicole Korpi-Steiner were among the five AACC member experts who developed this new certificate program. Laboratorians still have an opportunity to sign up: Those who enroll by October 31, using the promotional code 153, will receive a 15% discount. The program is open for enrollment until December 31; participants have until July 15, 2015, to complete all modules, for which they can earn 10 ACCENT credits.

The program’s quality and risk management module teaches laboratorians how to minimize risk of patient harm by applying quality monitoring and risk management tools to the lab’s entire testing process. Korpi-Steiner, who helped develop this module, says participants will learn about:

  • The systematic steps of proactive risk management;
  • Techniques to proactively identify hazards within the laboratory’s total testing process; and
  • Key characteristics of successful quality indicators and their utility in risk management.

This module highlights how these principles might be applied in laboratory medicine via a situation that discusses risk of patient identification errors during interfaced point-of-care testing, says Korpi-Steiner, director of point-of-care testing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We often perform rapid risk assessments in our everyday lives, perhaps without realizing it. These are important principles that can be used in everyday laboratory practice to promote patient safety,” she says.

Another module looks at the human resource aspects of patient safety. In developing this segment, Astion says he focused on several key areas, such as:

  • Handling disruptive behavior;
  • Turning back the normalization of deviance; and
  • Understanding and overcoming the confidence-competency conundrum.

The take-home message of this part of the curriculum is simple, he says. “If you overcome the human resource issues discussed in the lecture, using the advice in the lecture, you will be able to do breakthrough quality improvement no matter what disciplined problem-solving method your lab favors.” Astion is the medical director of Seattle Children's Hospital’s Department of Laboratories and clinical professor with the University of Washington’s Department of Laboratory Medicine.