April 21, 2009

Is your Medical Lab accredited?

At times, you may have been perplexed about divergent health reports provided by various labs. Reason? Not a single government hospital has an accredited diagnostic laboratory in India.

Of 1 lakh labs across the country, a mere 136 are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

"If a lab is accredited, it doesn't mean it's competent to do all tests," said Quality Council of India adviser Thuppil Venkatesh.

"Individual tests are accredited and every lab must explicitly mention the tests for which it doesn't have NABL accreditation."

According to him, patients themselves should insist whether the lab is accredited, or the test they would be getting done is also accredited. "A good thing now is that corporates reimburse for medical tests if they're done in accredited labs," he added.

Reports that come with `NABL' logo and certificate number are proof that the tests are accredited. Medical lab accreditation is done only through NABL, an autonomous body and government-authorized accreditation body, and it's a voluntary process. However, accreditation of clinical laboratories is not mandatory in India.

Accreditation needs to comply with particular requirements for quality and competence as per international standard. All staff should be trained, instruments calibrated and observations documented.

"Many labs in India don't go for accreditation because it's expensive. Also, there are no qualified staff. So everyone is going easy," said microbiology professor S Muralidharan.

Link: Original Article

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