NEW YORK ─ The American Association for Clinical Chemistry on Thursday announced that it has issued a guidance document that describes best practices for hospitals and other healthcare institutions running point-of-care testing (POCT) programs.
The guidance ─ a revision of the AACC's Laboratory Medicine Practice Guidelines Evidence-Based Practice for Point-of-Care Testing published in 2006 ─ provides a "focus on how clinicians can get the most efficacy and highest quality results from implementing best practices for POCT," its authors said in the document.
The authors address what they believe are several important questions including the value of an interdisciplinary committee to oversee POCT; whether education improves POCT performance; optimal staffing models for POCT; whether proficiency testing and external quality assessment programs improve POCT performance and patient outcomes; whether management improves POCT outcomes; how staff should select POCT devices; and how POCT improves processes.
The guidelines emphasize that laboratory professionals and clinicians should collaborate on POCT programs to ensure that the testing benefits patients, AACC said in a statement.
POCT is helping patients get diagnosed and treated faster and is making it easier for those in remote areas to access medical testing, it noted. However, healthcare institutions need to exercise care while running POCT programs to make sure they are not trading high-quality test results for speed, it added.
The guideline recommends that point-of-care testing programs should be managed by interdisciplinary committees that include all relevant stakeholders ranging from laboratory experts to clinicians. It further discusses factors healthcare institutions should consider when deciding whether to use a point-of-care test. One of the most important factors is determining whether a faster test will impact patient outcomes, the AACC said.
Its guidance also advises institutes to maintain ongoing training for point-of-care operators; to track specific point-of-care testing indicators that can flag areas for improvement; and to participate in a proficiency testing and external quality assessment program.