Main Article Content
Objectives: The specific objectives of the study were to (a) identify current best practice in pathology specimen collection and assess the extent to which Australian pathology services currently satisfy best practice standards; and (b) identify training and other strategies that would mitigate any gaps between current and best practice.
Methods: A total of 22 case studies were undertaken with pathology collector employers from public, not for profit and private pathology organisations andacross urban and rural locations and eight focus groups with pathology collection services consumers were conducted in December 2012 in four different cities.
Results: The preferred minimum qualification of the majority of case study employers for pathology collectors is the nationally recognised Certificate III in Pathology. This qualification maps well to an accepted international best practice guideline for pathology collection competency standards but has some noted deficiencies identified which need to be rectified. These particularly include competencies related to communicating with consumers. The preferred way of training for this qualification is largely through structured and supervised on the job learning experiences supported by theoretical classroom instruction delivered in-house or in off the job settings. The study found a need to ensure a greater proportion of the pathology collection workforce is appropriately qualified.
Conclusion: The most effective pathway to best practice pathology collection requires strong policies that define how pathology samples are to be collected, stored and transported and a pathology collection workforce that is competent and presents to consumers with a credible qualification and in a professional manner.
Abbreviations: CHF – Consumer Health Forum of Australia; KIMMS – Key Incident Monitoring and Management Systems; NAACLS – National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences; NACCHO – National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation; NPAAC – National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council; RCPA – Royal College of Pathology Australasia; RTO – Registered Training Organisation.