The National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) has recently made a couple of decisions that appears to be entirely about vested interests rather than ensuring the best patient outcomes.
Under current regulations, a major pathology service may be under the direction, control and full-time supervision of a pathologist, or senior scientist who is expert in the group, or groups, concerned. The new NPAAC Standards specifically provide for a pathologist to be in charge of all sections of pathology. This specific change is reflected in two new NPAAC documents – Requirements for medical pathology services and Requirements for supervision in the clinical governance of medical pathology laboratories.
This new requirement is being sold as a way to improve the quality of pathology services, improve lab governance with a shift to managing risk. However, not a shred of evidence has been produced to suggest there will be any improvement in the quality of pathology services, improvements in lab governance, reductions in risk or additional benefits to patients by changing who can be effectively in charge of a medical pathology laboratory.
In fact not a shred of evidence was produced to show that current laboratory supervision requirements limit quality or governance in labs, nor that they constitute any form of risk to patients. On the contrary, current supervision structures have overseen continuous improvement to quality and risk standards.
In making this change the NPAAC is effectively cutting off career paths for medical scientists to leadership roles in laboratories, in favour of pathologists. This change could also lead to substantial increases in the cost of staffing laboratories while not providing any greater protection to patients or result in improvements in turn-around times for tests.
There are no clinical reasons for this change and there is no evidence provided that such a change would improve laboratory services. This is purely a push to have pathologists in charge of laboratories and nothing to do with patient safety.
Help bring this matter to light and demand that the Health Minister not change NPAAC regulations to make pathologists the only ones in charge of a medical pathology laboratory and sign our petition to the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt