Designation of Lab Director, a QMS Specification, becoming a HR Issue in the Laboratory
Chithambaranathan Sivasubramonian, Associate Consultant
Medical Laboratories & the need to create a dedicated Laboratory Director Post / Designation to satisfy QMS requirementIsn’t this becoming a HR issue
A Laboratory Professional from a client organization reached out to us seeking clarification on Lab Director’s role in Accreditation process. She was asked by the Management to redesignate Lab Director as Lab head in Accreditation documents and she wanted to know if its ok to do so as Accreditation norm is asking for Lab Director designation.
This has triggered an internal discussion at office and we were debating about the need to create / insist on Lab Director’s designation / role in labs seeking accreditation.
Medical Labs were obtaining National / International Certifications, Accreditations all these years and each program has its own spec. However, the global trend in the last few years has shifted towards introducing Minimum Standards for Medical Labs and many countries have rolled out the program. India too has rolled out the Minimum Stds for Labs as Regulatory spec under Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010.
Let’s take the case of a Lab appointing a Lab Director as an accreditation norm and see what is listed out by various National , International Stds for this requirement.
We have the following popular programs for Medical Labs running in our country :
- Minimum Standards mandated under CEA. Both NABL, QAI offer Certification programs under this scheme in the country.
- ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management Systems Certification Program
- Med Labs Certification Programs offered by NABH
- Med Labs Accreditation Programs offered by NABL, CAP and QAI
Minimum Standards has mandated the Minimum qualification of Technical Head of Laboratory or Specialist or Authorized Signatories. Clearly defined spec on who should act as Technical head is mentioned. So any Certification program offered by NABL, QAI or any other body has to have the same spec in their Certification, Accreditation criteria as compliance to Minimum Standards is a Regulatory requirement.
ISO 9001:2015 Standard Clause 7 Support talks in general about Personnel competency, training needs etc. No other specification is listed as it’s a generic QMS Standard applicable for all businesses.
NABH Essential Standards for Medical Laboratories program talks about Personnel and its clearly mentioned about the Responsibility of Quality Manager & Technical Manager. But with respect to overall responsibility of the Laboratory Head, NABH Essential Standard for Medical Laboratories hasn’t mentioned anything much. So overall responsibility of Lab Head s not clear enough under this program.
QAI’s Recognition for Medical Laboratory Program, in Human Resources section – MBBS Doctor or MSc Pathology/Medical Microbiology/Medical Biochemistry are recognized qualification for Authorized Signatory. But there is no evidence of defining the overall responsibility of the laboratory head and the same isn’t clear in the QAI Recognition of Medical Laboratory Program either.
NABL’s Med Lab Accreditation Program mentions that Laboratory Director/ Head of Laboratory/ Technical Head (howsoever named), shall have the overall responsibility of Operations of the laboratory. Hence Lab Director’s Designation / Role is not mandatory. This is thee specific criteria document on NABL which is NABL 112. But the Standard for this program is ISO 15189:2012 which talks about the need to designate Laboratory Director.
CAP’s Laboratory Accreditation Program has a mandatory specification for Lab Director’s Designation and Role.
My Thoughts as a Lab QMS Consultant :
I’m going back to the question asked by the Lab Professional whether its mandatory to have Lab Director Role and Designation in the Accredited Lab.
As a Consultant in healthcare industry, I would say it’s a debatable topic. The requirement depends on the National, International Standards followed by the Med Labs.
I have listed out the personnel spec given by each Standard for Med Labs. Lab Director’s Designation is a hierarchy in the organogram and can’t be maintained by all Labs. Labs can specify their own designations as listed in the NABL 112 Criteria OR criteria.
Lab Director role is mentioned in ISO 15189 – so any lab implementing ISO 15189 has to have this role as part of system. But same designation – no. Over the years QMS standards have used various terms such as Management Teptesentative or Technical Manager or Quality Manager. It never meant organizations had to change designations. They had to merely say who would perform MR or TM or QM role. So no one can insist his designation should be Lab Director. He can be given the role with whatever desognation he has.