When you go for a pathological test referred to by your treating doctor then the whole course of treatment and your well being and recovery depends a great deal on it. Laboratory tests play a vital role in disease diagnosis, and treatment. Doctors are going by it to prescribe your medication and treat you. So if anything is wrong in the report, the whole effort of your health recovery will be futile. The test results therefore should be totally reliable and accurate. And where from you can expect to get a quality and standardized pathological report? Obviously from a quality and standardized pathological lab!
But unfortunately most of the laboratories are not fully equipped with facilities for performing complex investigations. Today, in almost every city we find mushroom growth of pathological laboratories more so in a businesslike fashion. A rough estimate says that there are around 25,000 clinical laboratories functioning in the country and many of these laboratories are not properly staffed and managed by skilled technologists.
Now the question is, as a common man, how will you know which pathological laboratory is to trust or rely upon? Off course it is difficult for a common man to properly judge but there are certain things which could give you some idea about the reliability and credibility of a lab.
Accreditation of the laboratory
Accreditation of the lab is a good way to judge the quality of the lab. Laboratory Accreditation provides a formal recognition to those laboratories which competes on the various rigorous parameters set by the accreditation committee. It thus provides a means for enhanced customer confidence in accepting testing reports issued by these accredited laboratories.
The National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and is the only government-authorized accreditation body for laboratories. NABL provides accreditation to labs after properly judging and evaluating on many important criteria as set by them. It calls for the laboratories to comply with a series of quality assurance requirements like qualifications of employees, equipment, facilities, testing procedures and maintenance and preservation of records. Only after being fully satisfied with the operation of the lab on each and every criterion, a lab gets accreditation from NABL.
NABL has adopted the International Criteria for laboratory accreditation which has been laid down by the International organization of Standardization (ISO). Specialist technical evaluators conduct a thorough evaluation of all factors in a laboratory that could affect the production of a lab report. The criteria are based on the international standards called ISO/IEC 17025 or ISO 15189, which are practiced for evaluating laboratories throughout the world.
Majority of clinical laboratories in India have yet to obtain accreditation. The first accreditation certificate for a clinical laboratory was issued by NABL in 1999 and even today the number of labs accredited by NABL is quite less in the country.
NABL accreditation vs ISO 9000 certification
ISO 9000 Certification is on Quality Management only whereas the NABL Accreditation provides official recognition to the technical abilities and skills of the laboratories. Accreditation is thus a higher level of recognition than a system certification.
Display of logo
You can find NABL logo on the letterhead, test reports or any other related documents of all the laboratories which are accredited by NABL. They are supposed to display NABL logo on them for the customers to identify that the test service lab is accredited by NABL.