College of American Pathologists
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  Checklists undergoing more intensive review



August 2006
Originally published in CAP Today

Ed Finkel

The College has created what it calls “user acceptance groups” to provide more intensive, specialized reviews of changes to laboratory inspection checklists.

In the past, the pertinent CAP resource committee reviewed such revisions, and though it brought plenty of scientific and medical expertise, there was room for additional review, says Stephen Sarewitz, MD, chair of the newly formed Checklists Committee, which oversees the creation of and updates to the various checklists.

Dr. Sarewitz says the aim has been to recruit people in the field who are knowledgeable about inspections and have the right expertise to vet each checklist beginning in the fall. “We were trying to get three to five people, a small group, who would do the review. We pretty much accomplished that.”

“The knowledge of how to apply the requirements in an actual inspection process requires some work,” he says. “You have to make sure everything in the checklist is consistent and realistic… and that it’s understandable and communicated well. The staff and I review it with that in mind.”

The input of the user acceptance groups should help enormously, he says. “What we’re asking these people to look at… is not only medical accuracy but whether the changes reflect best practice, whether the changes will work in the real world, whether the revisions are consistent with other checklist items, and whether they are communicated clearly. Finally, all changes incur a certain cost. Is the change significant? Will it help quality? If it’s something very minor, we may say, “You know, it’s not worth doing.”

The results should meet the College’s goal of a more thorough, real-world, and well-communicated process and outcome, Dr. Sarewitz says. “The purpose is to get a more quality, focused review,” he says. “We just want to get people with different perspectives looking at the checklists, so they’re not only scientifically and medically accurate but user-friendly and realistic. That’s tough, to accomplish all those things at once, but we’re trying to do as best we can.”

Ed Finkel is a writer in Evanston, Ill.

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