The accreditation program for pathology laboratories in Australia is a joint scheme of the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) which has offered accreditation in the pathology sector for over 25 years.
Whilst the program seeks to engender a culture of continual improvement within pathology, there is also an obligation and duty of care to identify those laboratories which do not meet the accreditation requirements and where patient results might be compromised.
NATA has formal processes in place to handle poor performance in laboratories – a series of steps is taken including conducting follow‐up assessments, suspending accreditation and, ultimately, cancelling accreditation.
The ways in which poor performance is identified at assessment will be discussed together with the common areas which feature in poorly performing laboratories.
Compliance with accreditation requirements for new laboratories as well as those which have been operating for a number of years is a key issue for all laboratories who seek benefits from Medicare Australia. Continued poor performance will impact on the laboratory's access to these benefits.