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2017, Volume 33, Number 1, Page(s) 047-057     
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DOI: 10.5146/tjpath.2016.01375
Improving Histopathology Laboratory Productivity: Process Consultancy and A3 Problem Solving
Kutsal YÖRÜKOĞLU1, Erdener ÖZER1, Birsen ALPTEKİN1, Cem ÖCAL 2
1Department of Pathology, Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Medicine, İZMİR, Turkey
2Roche Diagnostics Turkey A.Ş., Workflow, IT and Consultancy Manager, İstanbul, Turkey
Keywords: Quality control, Histopathology, Internal-external control

Objective: The ISO 17020 quality program has been run in our pathology laboratory for four years to establish an action plan for correction and prevention of identified errors. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the errors that we could not identify through ISO 17020 and/or solve by means of process consulting. Process consulting is carefully intervening in a group or team to help it to accomplish its goals.

Material and Method: The A3 problem solving process was run under the leadership of a ‘workflow, IT and consultancy manager’. An action team was established consisting of technical staff. A root cause analysis was applied for target conditions, and the 6-S method was implemented for solution proposals. Applicable proposals were activated and the results were rated by six-sigma analysis. Non-applicable proposals were reported to the laboratory administrator.

Results: A mislabelling error was the most complained issue triggering all pre-analytical errors. There were 21 non-value added steps grouped in 8 main targets on the fish bone graphic (transporting, recording, moving, individual, waiting, over-processing, over-transaction and errors). Unnecessary redundant requests, missing slides, archiving issues, redundant activities, and mislabelling errors were proposed to be solved by improving visibility and fixing spaghetti problems. Spatial re-organization, organizational marking, re-defining some operations, and labeling activities raised the six sigma score from 24% to 68% for all phases. Operational transactions such as implementation of a pathology laboratory system was suggested for long-term improvement.

Conclusion: Laboratory management is a complex process. Quality control is an effective method to improve productivity. Systematic checking in a quality program may not always find and/or solve the problems. External observation may reveal crucial indicators about the system failures providing very simple solutions.


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