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Simon Ray's interview on newly launched laboratory accreditation

An interview of Dr S.G. Ray, FESC, Chairman of the EAE Laboratory Accreditation about the importance of accreditation for echocardiographic laboratories

EAE Laboratory accreditation logo
"This is an exciting time to be involved in echocardiography as techniques and their clinical applications are developing at an unprecedented rate"

Non-invasive Imaging: Echocardiography

Why launching the accreditation of laboratories ?
EAE laboratory accreditation is being launched to support the raising of standards in the practice of echocardiography across Europe.  It provides a set of standards against which Laboratories can benchmark themselves and we hope in particular that it will act as an incentive for units to develop audit and quality control procedures.  It can also be used as a tool for Laboratories to use in negotiation for appropriate facilities and equipment.

Why should a laboratory apply for accreditation?
There are several reasons why a Laboratory might apply for accreditation.  EAE accreditation is a mark that a Laboratory meets a certain standard of practice that has been independently assessed and verified.  Accredited Laboratories will be provided with a certificate confirming their status and will be included in a list on the EAE website.  Laboratories may wish to use their accredited status to attract patients or staff and to generally enhance their reputation.
Advanced accreditation confirms that a Laboratory meets particularly high standards of practice and participation in research and is a very prestigious award implying national standing.  We anticipate that Laboratories with advanced accreditation will be a in a strong position to compete for research funding and to act as centres for teaching and innovation.

If you could, would you personally apply for the EAE laboratory Accreditation ?
My own Laboratory will be applying for accreditation next year.  We are using the standards laid down in the accreditation process to improve our quality control procedures and have successfully used the equipment standards to bid for funding from the hospital to upgrade some of our older machines.  As we have a research interest we will be aiming to achieve Advanced Accreditation.  We recognise that this is a major undertaking and it has focused a lot of energy in to improving our service.

Which are the main requirements for laboratory accreditation?
The detailed requirements for accreditation are specified in the article in the European Journal of Echocardiography from January 2007 and are available on the EAE website.  The requirements for Standard Level Accreditation can be met by any well run laboratory and require appropriately trained staff, reasonable facilities and appropriate equipment.  The service should treat patients with respect and provide prompt and relevant structured reports.  For TEE and Stress Echo services safety measures need to be in place and operators should be performing minimum numbers of studies.  The real message for Standard Accreditation is that it is achievable for most laboratories but will require some planning and alteration of procedures for the majority.  For Advanced Level Accreditation the requirements are more rigorous and include formal quality control procedures as well as a track record of training and research.

How do you see the involvement of the National working Groups?
The National Working Groups are key to the success of the Laboratory Accreditation process.  The principal role of the Groups is to assess the applications from their country to ensure that data collection is complete and to confirm that statements in the application appear correct.  Local knowledge is vital for this assessment, for instance to ensure that documents in local languages are appropriately written.  Only when a National Working Group is happy with an application can it be assessed by the EAE Laboratory Accreditation Committee.

Do you have any specific message you would like to address to the audience?
This is an exciting time to be involved in echocardiography as techniques and their clinical applications are developing at an unprecedented rate.  In the future echo Laboratories will be judged not just on throughput but by the quality of their service they provide and I hope that the EAE Laboratory Accreditation will help to set a framework for a high quality service.

Dr S.G. Ray, FESC
Chairman of the EAE Laboratory Accreditation