Pathology is a growing job market. Between 2016 and 2026, there is an expected growth of 11.4% of new pathologists entering the field.
While the field of pathology is fascinating, there is a lot to keep up-to-date on. Regulations, standards, and accreditations are constantly in flux.
If you miss anything, it can cost you time, money, and your reputation. The College of American Pathologists (CAP) is on a mission to ensure there are industry standards and excellence in how pathology and laboratory medicine is practiced around the globe.
A CAP accreditation can do a lot for a laboratory. Keep reading to learn about CAP requirements to help boost best practices at your laboratory.
What CAP Accreditation Means
There are several benefits to a CAP accreditation because of the high CAP standards that are set such as:
- Managing and reducing the chances of inaccurate test results
- Reaching the highest standards of lab quality
- Ensuring confidence in diagnosing patients
- Delivering accurate results to provide the best patient outcomes possible
- Availability of educational and training resources provided by CAP
CAP-accredited labs have been inspected to ensure they meet the highest industry standards. Receiving a CAP laboratory accreditation means that patients receive accurate test results and diagnosis.
A CAP-accreditation symbolizes your lab's dedication to quality. This increases the value of the laboratory to organizations, patients, and customers.
As of 2018, there are 21 checklists that include almost 3,000 requirements. This is just one example of the high CAP standards each accredited lab must undergo.
CAP teams use the various checklists during inspections as a guide to assess a lab's management and operation. And while CAP is American, it's an internationally recognized program.
Adheres to the Highest Standards Possible
It's also the largest of its kind where its inspectors are also practicing laboratory professionals. The program is specifically designed to go above and beyond regulatory compliance to achieve the highest standards possible.
This attention to detail positively impacts patient care. It also enables medical teams to make better-informed decisions about treatment plans, diagnosis, and cost-efficiency.
Each year, CAP reviews and updates the checklists. This helps maintain CAP's strict standards while including new advancement in technology, medicine, and laboratory management.
Lab Testing Mostly Performed in the U.S.
CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) regulates all laboratory testing on human samples in the US except for research purposes. However, since CAP is approved by CMS as an accreditation organization, it has the authority to inspect laboratories under CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments).
What this means is that under CLIA CAP has the proper authority to inspect laboratories. CAP-accredited labs are also recognized by The Joint Commission.
CAP-accredited labs also meet many state certification requirements. For these reasons, CAP has accredited over 8,000 labs. 437 of which are internationally based.
Eligibility Requirements for CAP Lab Certification
Labs must be licensed appropriately to perform any testing when required by law. CAP will accredit any lab performing testing on specimens from animals or human beings as long as the lab is using methodologies and clinical applications within the guidelines of the program.
Both international and US labs are eligible for the lab accreditation program. International labs interested in CAP can find information on the international lab's section of the website.
How the CAP Lab Certification Works
To become certified is a 10-step process:
- Begin by requesting an application
- Review your welcome kit
- Complete the application
- Receive your customized checklists
- Schedule a date for your lab to be inspected
- Host an inspection day
- Respond and fix any deficiencies found within 30 days
- Support CAP review of responses
- Receive your certificate of accreditation
Your last step is to perform your own self-inspection. Throughout the year, you are also responsible for continuously maintaining compliance.
On-Site Inspections Every Two Years
On-site inspections happen every two years. CAP accreditation checklists are used to assess a lab's compliance with the program's requirements.
An inspector and team will be assigned by the CAP to perform the on-site inspection. Usually, inspections are conducted within a three-month timeframe.
Labs participating in the program can access current checklists through e-LAB Solutions. Those labs not yet accredited need to purchase the checklist.
How Policies and Procedure are Impacted by CAP Requirements
With nearly 3,000 requirements, it's obvious that the CAP accreditation checklists are both strict and well detailed. This makes it easy for labs to be in full compliances with the accreditation program.
To ensure the highest quality and adherence to the strictest standards, labs must instill policies and procedures to ensure quality testing along with patient safety. Policies are set in place to address the following:
- Ensuring test systems are validated
- Testing is proficient and accurate
- Both pre and post-analytic processes have quality management protocols set in place
- Analytic quality control
Good communication standards are also vital policies to adhere to. Communication includes not just patients but also includes clinicians, administration, and even stakeholders.
Labs must document each of the processes they use to operate including:
- How samples are treated
- How tests are conducted
- How results are communicated
The result is thousands of documents are created. This also requires laboratories to ensure that all documents are updated and easily accessible to staff members.
Staying on Top of the Latest Changes is Essential
Whether you're a lab, hospital or government agency, it's essential to stay on top of the latest regulations, standards, and accreditation rules. That includes current CAP requirements.
News travels quickly these days. To maintain a competitive edge and your reputation, it's important to consistently maintain high-quality standards of care along with best practices.
Why Choosing Us Makes Sense
We're proud to be CAP accredited. And we've been in business for over 30 years.
We're dedicated to improving the health of humans. We do that by supplying custom serum and plasma products to government agencies and labs all over the planet.
We'd love to work with your lab or government agency as well. Click here to request a consultation.