Continuing our series of introductory IQCP blogs, let’s talk a little bit about identifying potential errors in a particular test process.
As we mentioned before, when creating an IQCP, the first step is to gather all pertinent information regarding the test in question, then we should focus on identifying potential sources of error or what is the same, answering the question “Where can things go wrong?” in the testing process.
In fact, identifying potential errors is the single most important step when creating an Individualized Quality Control Plan for a laboratory test. Careful attention should be paid to the package insert, and other pertinent information, looking for areas where not following instructions could lead to the reporting of an erroneous result, ultimately affecting the care of patients.
Remember, the I in IQCP stands for Individualized, therefore in addition to the package insert, your IQCP must account for variations that are unique to your laboratory setting, patient population, clinical significance of the test, testing personnel, etc.
The goal is to identify errors preemptively and have measures in place to mitigate their effect and prevent the reporting of erroneous results. The measures implemented to mitigate potential errors identified are the elements of your completed Individualized Quality Control Plan.
Some medical technologists will say that IQCP is similar to doing QA, and they are right, except that QA looks at the past and focuses on corrective action and IQCP is about looking at the future and focusing on the what-ifs.
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