Laboratory Accreditation Program memories
Anne Ford’s story on the Laboratory Accreditation Program brought back memories (March 2012). In 1973, Gen. Joe Blumberg appointed me to join William Hamlin, MD, and John Duckworth, MD, in writing an instrument maintenance manual for the accreditation program. Dr. Hamlin arranged for us to visit the Boeing Aircraft maintenance division in Minneapolis. Our guide remarked that he would never release a plane for flight that he himself would not fly on. This became my lab’s philosophy: Never release a test result that you would not want used to diagnose your own illness. To me, this sums up the accreditation program goals.
I had the joyful job of editing the newsletter of the Laboratory Accreditation Program for 11 years, from 1990 to 2001. I reported the evolving changes in procedures, checklists, and education programs and the interactions between the program and the CAP scientific resource committees.
In his column in the same issue, CAP president Stanley Robboy, MD, relates the famous fire escape scene in which William Reals, MD, and James Barger, MD, conceived a program to inspect and accredit laboratories. If they were the founders, then Gen. Blumberg was the heart and early driving force of the program. Dennis Dorsey, MD, was the architect who meticulously devised the first checklist. Commission chairs Dr. Duckworth, Dr. Hamlin, John Batjer, MD, and Ron Lepoff, MD, were major forces in moving the program forward.
In my time with the program, I did several overseas inspections. The lab director in Geneva, Switzerland provided my most treasured memory. He told our team that we had been invited because we are “the gold standard” of laboratory accreditation. That validated much of our work that began so long ago on a chilly fire escape in Chicago.
P. Ridgway Gilmer Jr., MD
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