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Health clinic lab accredited by US group

The clinical lab team: from left to right, Aaisha Farooqui, Medical Technologist, Dr Janice Chang, Senior Medical Officer, Susan Jatto, Laboratory Supervisor and Dr Danielle Simons, Laboratory Director

Department of Health’s clinical laboratory has achieved accreditation from COLA, a US-based independent, non-profit accreditation organisation.

According to a Department statement, COLA accredits almost 8,000 medical laboratories and provides a programme of education, consultation, and accreditation.

The local facility, located at the Hamilton Health Centre on Victoria Street, routinely deals with clinical specimens — samples from human clients — when a Health Centre physician requests tests be performed to aid in the diagnosis of illness. A specimen of blood, urine or other sample is taken from the client and sent to the laboratory for testing.

In addition to routine testing of clinical samples, the lab also serves as a public health laboratory during an outbreak or epidemic and manages specimens for testing in Bermuda or abroad.

“Two medical technologists and a laboratory director work in the clinical laboratory,” added the statement. “They perform between 10,000-25,000 tests annually under four specialities — microbiology, hematology, general immunology and routine chemistry. The laboratory director is a medical officer, and the senior medical officer is section head.

“Completing COLA’s accreditation programme means the Department of Health’s clinical laboratory is in compliance with US federal CLIA requirements. In the US, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulate laboratory testing and require clinical laboratories to be certified and accredited before they can accept human samples for diagnostic testing.”

Minister of health and seniors, Jeanne Atherden, congratulated the team, saying: “Accreditation of the Department of Health’s clinical laboratory assures Bermuda’s public of the quality of laboratory medicine and patient care associated with the lab’s day-to-day operations.”

COLA accreditation leads to improved patient safety as laboratory testing errors are reduced, any weaknesses in workflow, processes, and procedures are identified and addressed, and overall operations are aligned with accepted practices, said the Health Department.

“This is an ongoing exercise, and the laboratory will be reassessed by COLA in two years’ time. All 12 clinical laboratories in Bermuda are accredited, which attests to the high quality of laboratory services and laboratory personnel in Bermuda.”