College of American Pathologists
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  Avoiding potential conflicts of interest


June 2004
Originally published in CAP TODAY

Desiree A. Carlson, MD, Editor

In conducting the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program, the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation strives to avoid conflicts of interest-and even appearances of conflicts of interest. Thus, if a member of an inspection team believes that he or she might have a conflict of interest with respect to the lab being inspected, the issue should be raised with the team leader as soon as possible.

Similarly, if a team leader believes that he or she, or any member of the team, might have a conflict of interest, the issue should be raised with the state or regional commissioner as soon as possible. And if a laboratory to be inspected believes that inspectors from a specific facility might pose a conflict of interest, that laboratory should contact the state or regional commissioner as far as possible in advance of the inspection.

These procedures will help to ensure that fair consideration is given in timely fashion to any possible conflict of interest.

In addition, it should be stressed that findings and observations made by inspectors during an inspection are to be kept confidential. Thus, the policy of the commission with respect to confidentiality provides that:

All inspection findings are confidential. They should not be discussed in any context other than the inspection itself. Moreover, they should not be disclosed to anyone not associated with the accreditation process unless appropriate prior documented consent has been obtained.

Like the commission's posi tion on conflicts of interest, this policy is designed to make sure that the accreditation program is conducted solely to improve the quality of laboratory medicine.