The original CAP bylaws, adopted in December 1946, empowered the Board of Governors to “establish standards for the adequacy of hospital laboratories and issue certificates therefor.”
In 1961, the CAP Board of Governors appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Accreditation to develop a plan for the accreditation of laboratories. The committee’s report, which the Board approved in 1962, proposed the establishment of a Laboratory Accreditation Program encompassing key features such as:
- A commission reporting directly to the CAP Board of Governors and charged with development of standards relative to physical plant, laboratory organization, equipment, technical personnel, quality control, and record keeping
- Strictly voluntary participation by hospitals and private laboratories
- Accreditation remaining in force for a three-year period (later changed to two years with a requirement for an interim year of self-evaluation by the accredited laboratory)
- An annual fee assessed to participating institutions
Additionally, no hospital or private laboratory would be “grandfathered in” to receiving accreditation status.
By 1963, 222 laboratories applied for accreditation in the new program. The first accreditation certificate was issued in January 1964 to Medical Laboratory Associates in Birmingham, Alabama.
Future CAP President Dennis Dorsey developed the first accreditation checklist in 1965, and in 1967 federal regulations (CLIA ’67) recognized the then-named CAP Inspection and Accreditation Program, going so far as to stipulate that CAP standards were “equivalent to, or more stringent than” existing federal regulations.
In 1979, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH) recognized CAP accreditation and announced that JCAH would no longer inspect laboratories if they were CAP accredited.
After the passage of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA ’88), CAP pursued and received so-called “deeming authority” in 1995, meaning that the CAP accreditation program was recognized as an “approved accrediting organization.”