Experts urge laboratories to achieve international quality standards
Experts have charged Nigerian laboratories to achieve international highest standards of quality assurance, while lamenting that results from different outlets on the same specimen sometime show divergent results.
They spoke at the sixth edition of the ISN Quality Assurance Summit with the theme: “Demystifying ISO 15189,” held in Lagos recently.
The Chairman, ISN Group, Mr. Ben Ofungwu, urged laboratory scientists to ensure highest standards of quality assurance in medical laboratories across Nigeria.
He lamented that it was embarrassing when results from Nigerian laboratories were viewed with scepticism outside the country. Ofongwu regretted that only those who could afford to submit specimens to two or more laboratories to be sure of the diagnostic results, as those who could not afford it worked with just one result, thereby putting heir lives at risk. He stressed on the need for continuous awareness in quality control to address the challenge.
“What we are doing appears small step in our overall objective, but we must continue with these small steps until victory is achieved and Nigerian Medical Diagnostic Laboratories will be accepted in the comity of nations as reliable, impeccable and of utmost significance in the diagnosis of diseases,” he said.
The Director General, Nigerian National Accreditation System (NiNAS), Mr. Celestine Okanya, stressed the need for facilities to aim for accreditation to improve the quality of their results, noting that achieving a 99 per cent level of quality means accepting a 1 per cent error rate.
According to him, in medical laboratory practice, there is no room for error as patients may lose their lives in such situations.
Okanya explained that laboratory quality assurance was all-encompassing as it involves a range of activities that enable laboratories to achieve and maintain high levels of accuracy and proficiency pin providing the bests services to the patient and physicians.
He further warned Nigerians to be wary of some laboratories in the country as not all that are open have the competency to carry out tests and produce accurate results.
“Nigerians should ask if these labs are accredited to do these tests before accepting their services. When we begin to demand accreditation and turn back when they could not answer, many of these facilities will begin to go for accreditation to improve their services. It costs about 2 million to do accreditation but at the course of doing accreditation it will help them to improve the outcome of their results because it monitors their systems and the way they behave,” he said.
The Director and Deputy Registrar, Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN), Donald Ofili, insisted that every laboratory in Nigeria must be registered in their database for easy monitoring.
Ofili who lamented what he described as unacceptable infractions committed by many laboratory facilities in Nigeria, said with over 4,000 labs in the MLSCN database, they have not relented in shutting down defaulting laboratories.
He disclosed that though accreditation in Nigeria remains voluntary, there were plans by the Nigerian government to make it mandatory with a new policy that all labs must be accredited by 2025.
“Registration of laboratory is compulsory. Nigerians should also demand a registration certificate where they will find the unique PML number before they do tests. Laboratories are not allowed to be cited in residential homes due to the kind of samples they handle but in Nigeria, they cite some in filling stations,” he said.