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Applicability and potential benefits of benchmarking in Brazilian clinical laboratory services

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to test the applicability and benefits of benchmarking as a tool for quality analysis in Brazilian laboratory medical services. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A primary observational study is performed in eight hospital laboratories by tracking the receipt, analysis and return to participants of monitoring reports relating to several quality indicators for the years 2005 and 2006. Whenever possible, the paper applies 6s criteria as an independent assessment of process quality. Findings ‐ Data obtained for the eight laboratories showed a monthly average (±SD) of 178,579 (±153,670) tests performed per laboratory, with 40,256 (±44,858) requisitions and 4.77 (±1.33) tests per requisition. Overall, productivity was 7.35 (±2.46) tests per man-hour of work (MHW), increasing to 15.36 (±6.00) when considering only the analytical sector staff. An average of 1.63 (±1.14) lost hours per hundred MHW were reported (level 3.6s), with 3.86 (±5.10) accidents at work reported (AWR) per hundred thousand MHW (level 5.5s) and 4.22 (±2.61) redraws per thousand requisitions attended (level 4.1s). The turn-around-times were 2.25 (±0.98), 3.29 (±2.12) and 8.54 (±3.25) hours for glucose level, haemogram and human immunodeficiency virus serology, respectively. Practical implications ‐ Benchmarking proved to be a useful and feasible tool for quality management in Brazilian clinical laboratories, particularly when associated with independent tools for evaluating the quality of laboratorial processes. Originality/value ‐ This is the first Brazilian study reporting that benchmarking provides useful information on the performance of different clinical laboratory processes and, therefore, could become an important tool for laboratory management.

Keywords: Benchmarking; Brazil; Laboratories; Medicines; Quality indicators; Six sigma

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-10-23

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