Laboratory quality assurance - ACS Publications - American Chemical


Laboratory quality assurance - ACS Publications - American Chemical...

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Laboratory quality assurance Downloaded by UNIV OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA on August 25, 2015 | http://pubs.acs.org Publication Date: October 1, 1978 | doi: 10.1021/es60146a605

Solving laboratory technical and management problems can be more painful than waiting f o r them to go away: APHA’s QUASAR analysts can find a workable solution

Allen J. Seeber American Public Health Association Washington, D. C. 20036

Theoretically, the laboratory is the home of the scientific method. But too often, good science is contaminated by those human and economic problems that only a strong dose of sound, practical management can cure. Statement of the problem is the first step; yet for the majority of health (clinical and environmental) laboratories with small staffs, this statement can be as elusive as determination and implementation of the solution. On the other hand;in larger labs, confession of a problem to agency or corporate superiors may lead to further difficulties. To be sure, assistance from the myriad of regulators marching through the laboratory is always possible, though there is strong feeling among laboratory managers that there are more demerits in inspectors’ pockets than ready solutions. “We don’t want policemen” During the National Conference on the Establishment of. Standards of Performance for Environmental Laboratories ( E S &T, May 1978, p 5 17), there were public appeals from a cross-section of regulated commercial, industrial, and government laboratories for an antidote to the disciplinary attitudes of some inspectors who screen their institutions. Regulatory officials, who were also well-represented there, responded that while technical advice is an ideal, they have their problems too. “We don’t try to hire policemen, but I’m sure we have our share,” one conferee from a major regulatory agency conceded. “But re1128

Environmental Science & Technology

member that some agencies prohibit on-site advice from their inspectors.” Laboratory professionals and staff from the American Public Health Association (APHA), which sponsored the conference, were listening. (APHA develops and publishes a variety of laboratory methodologies for environmental and clinical laboratories, including the recent Quality Assurance Practices f o r Health Laboratories.) They immediately began investigating means of direct assistance to laboratories to satisfy those pleas from the floor of the conference. Consultative services Discussions culminated in a program from the Association’s Committee on Laboratory Standards and Practices (CLaSP) to supply expert consultative services in a neutral, objective, nondisciplinary and confidential atmosphere to applicant laboratories, at reasonable expense. Labeled “Quality Assurance Analysis & Review” (QUASAR), the program enlists professionals and expert technologists who are working in the field of endeavor relevant to the applicant’s need to provide neutral and objective management review of laboratory operations

to promote compliance with consensus or regulatory standards of performance assistance in solution of special technical problems in the collection, maintenance, analysis and interpretation of data determination of laboratory program adequacy in meeting its mission, as defined by consumers of laboratory results, exterior source of funding, or management expert counsel or witness in matters relating to laboratory operations. In addition to high-technology aspects of the program, QUASAR analysts provide assistance in basic management organization and practice, equipment and instrumentation, data management, funding and cost accounting, personnel matters, and the like. Of concern to QUASAR are those laboratories that feel constrained to “hope for the best” when their results demonstrate shortcomings, particularly when a federal inspector is due for a visit. Or maybe the new laboratory director may want to find the skeletons in the closets. Perhaps the corporate or agency board may find the director’s requests for or objections to program, instrument or personnel changes

Arnold Creenberg, George Clayton, William Hausler, Jr. (1 to r). QUASAR directors 0013-936X/78/0912-1128$01.00/0 @ 1978 American Chemical Society

Downloaded by UNIV OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA on August 25, 2015 | http://pubs.acs.org Publication Date: October 1, 1978 | doi: 10.1021/es60146a605

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A Forum To Initiate Planning For Crucial Action With states currently drafting Revised Implementation Plans for Nonattainment and Prevention of Significant Deterioration . . . with deadlines just a few months away. . . it is time to prime the pump with fresh information and insights for business and technical strategy planning. Workshop II, a two-day forum, will emphasize: *The role of industry in developing the Revised SIP’S Permitting strategies for modification, expansion, and new facilities Workshops in Chicago (Nov. 29, 30),Washington, D.C. (Dec. 13, 14), Houston (Dec. 5 , 6), and Los Angeles (Dec. 7, 8 ) will be lead by ERT experts in the interpretation, implementation, and technical ramifications of the CAM. The response to last year’s Workshops was very enthusiastic: “Achieved a good balance between legal interpretation and technical implications of CAAA. ” Exec., Utility Co. “Very helpful in suggesting areas for strategic planning. ” Corporate Exec., Major Mfr. ”ln spite of several recent similar programs, this presentation was refreshing and sharp. ” Exec., Major Oil Refinery Registrations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. For immediate action, call K.C. Reppucci, (617) 369-8910.

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1130 Environmental Science & Technology

“self-serving.” On the other hand, the principal in a collaborative or comparative survey may wish to pinpoint the capabilities of participating laboratories. In each case, QUASAR presents an authoritative, neutral, and persuasive opinion. Confidentiality Central to the value of the program is its contractual confidentiality: QUASAR arrangements and final reports are channeled only through the responsible party who commissioned the consultation. Further, QUASAR analysts bring with them extensive backgrounds in the same sciences and workplace settings, and experience with the same kinds of problems as the clients’. Minimizing human problems Estimates of magnitude of consultation and costs are provided the applicant laboratory upon review of a questionnaire by QUASAR directors. CLaSP review of analyst reports and client follow up are keystones in the program’s internal quality assurance procedures. “As long as people work in laboratories, there will be differences of opinion, and there will always be the temptation for one person to improve his image at the expense of someone else. W e want to help minimize these human problems,” says C L a S P Chairman ArnoM E. Greenberg. “Our analysts will be rated on how efficiently and quitely they solve problems, not how many additional ones they create.” The principal function of an analytical health laboratory is to provide reliable information on materials submitted to it for examination. Users have the right to expect that information to be correct. Total responsibility for quality assurance, including preventive, assessment and corrective practices, sits squarely in the chair of the director. Regardless of the nature of the lab or the problem, strong management is the key to immediate and long-term solutions. It is the stated purpose of QUASAR to provide both.

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Allen J. Seeber is publisher of APHA’s laboratory methodologies, and manager of the QUASAR program. Coordinated by JJ

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