MacDill preps for 7th straight 'perfect' pathology inspection

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro and Senior Airman Melanie Bulow
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Spread between two locations and catering to more than 220,000 yearly beneficiaries, MacDill's 22-member medical laboratory team is once again prepping for its biennial clinical pathology inspection.

As mandated by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act, all facilities that do laboratory testing on specimens derived from humans must adhere to federally established quality standards. This ensures the accuracy, reliability and timeliness of patient test results.

What is riding on the outcome of this inspection? Only an essential accreditation that gives the base the legal means to practice. But don't worry, MacDill has a flawless record--over the past six inspections, the fine-tooth-comb-toting examiners have yet to find one discrepancy.

To put this feat into perspective, if you place the inspection checklist side-by-side with a copy of the Webster's Dictionary, the glossary would be dwarfed by comparison. This is due to the simple fact that the inspection is based on all practices that occur within a said laboratory and not on individual performance.

"The thought of our 1,800-item preparation checklist may seem intimidating, but because of the way we train our staff and conduct our daily operations, we continuously stay prepared," commented Master Sgt. Lora Garcia, 6th Medical Support Squadron. "Conspicuous compliance is what MacDill prides itself on and we are looking forward to the inspectors coming to see how professionally managed our facilities are."

When the two year certification approaches, facilities are given a 90-day window as to when a group of inspectors will show up and begin examining. This year's window is from Sept. through Nov. and the inspection will be conducted by six members of the College of American Pathologists organization, which is one of only four federal government selected and board-certified inspection agencies.

"Our intentions are very straight-forward--we make sure that each organization abides by the establish guidelines," said Trudy Darden, inspection technical team lead for the CAP. "The checklists that we assess are very specific; it's not often that we find major discrepancies."

As MacDill's lab techs anxiously await the CAP team's arrival, they continue to process through the thousands of specimens drawn weekly and remain focused and ready to impress.

"With the track record that our two clinics currently have, there is a bit of excitement that comes along with the inspection," commented Senior Airman Devin Adrian, 6th Medical Support Squadron laboratory technician. "I feel confident our laboratories (the main clinic on base and the Brandon satellite location) will pass with flying colors."