The Department of Health’s clinical laboratory has achieved accreditation from COLA, a US-based independent, non-profit accreditation organization. COLA accredits almost 8,000 medical laboratories and provides a program of education, consultation, and accreditation.
The clinical laboratory is located at the Hamilton Health Centre on Victoria Street, Hamilton. This laboratory routinely deals with clinical specimens (that is, the samples come 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, this laboratory 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. They perform between 10,000-25,000 tests annually under four specialties: 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 program 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, CA, CPA, JP, MP, 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.
This is an ongoing exercise, and the laboratory will be re-assessed 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.
Left to right: Aaisha Farooqui, Medical Technologist; Dr. Janice Chang, Senior Medical Officer; Susan Jatto, Laboratory Supervisor; Dr. Danielle Simons, Laboratory Director.