Patient safety is always a top priority for laboratorians, and a new online certificate program will help participants learn how to improve patient safety through work culture, quality improvement strategies, and personnel management. Highlights include education about risk detection approaches, responding to lab errors, and conducting process improvement.

This program was designed by a stellar group of experts, including program chair Nikola Baumann, PhD, DABCC, co-director of the central clinical laboratory and central processing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Joining her as faculty were James Hernandez, MD, MS, associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona; Nichole Korpi-Steiner, PhD, DABCC, FACB, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and director of point-of-care testing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Corinne Fantz, PhD, DABCC, FACB, director of laboratory development at Lab Source in Decatur, Georgia; and Mike Astion, MD, PhD, division chief of laboratory medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Astion also chairs and Fantz and Hernandez serve on CLN’s Patient Safety Focus editorial board.

The idea for this certificate program was borne from a meeting of a small group of experts who brainstormed topics that would be most relevant for laboratorians. “We wanted to close the loop between the laboratory and the patient and highlight the laboratory’s important role in patient safety,” Baumann says. “The certificate program begins with an introduction to patient safety, so that the participant builds a foundation. We then focused on the importance of developing a culture in which patient safety is a priority and staff can feel comfortable speaking up and identifying practices that may compromise patient safety.”

The course will also incorporate what Baumann calls the “human elements” that affect patient safety. “There are several modules which provide very practical tools that can be used immediately in laboratories, including designing quality indicators that actually improve quality and using risk management in the laboratory,” she explains. “We provide a checklist for responding to laboratory errors and 10 steps for successful quality improvement. These are tools that labs implement.”

The hope is that participants will walk away from the course with key knowledge they can use in their labs. “They’ll take away the message that we are all responsible for patient safety, and we can each actively improve patient safety as laboratory professionals,” Baumann says.