What is laboratory accreditation?
Accreditation of Australian pathology laboratories is run jointly by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA). NATA has a formal agreement with the Commonwealth Government to assess laboratories for the Health Insurance Commission (HIC).
Laboratory accreditation is mandatory; laboratories must be accredited to access Medicare rebates. Assessment is to a series of standards developed by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) in association with the various professional bodies including the:
- Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)
- Australian Medical Association (AMA)
- Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (AIMS)
- Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB)
- Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM)
- Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA)
- Australian Association of Pathology Practices (AAPP)
- National Coalition of Public Pathology (NCOPP)
Assessment for accreditation is by regular on-site audits by NATA. These audits are conducted by specialist technical assessors (a peer review process) and a lead NATA auditor. Accreditation is supported by the pathology community; specialist technical assessors are drawn from public and private pathology services and provide this service on a voluntary no-fee basis.