• Is point of care testing in Irish hospitals ready for the laboratory modernisation process? An audit against the current national Irish guidelines.

      O'Kelly, R A; Byrne, E; Mulligan, C; Mulready, K J; O'Gorman, P; O'Shea, P; Boran, G; Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland, rokelly@coombe.ie. (2013-04-11)
      BACKGROUND: The Laboratory modernisation process in Ireland will include point of care testing (POCT) as one of its central tenets. However, a previous baseline survey showed that POCT was under-resourced particularly with respect to information technology (IT) and staffing. AIMS: An audit was undertaken to see if POCT services had improved since the publication of National Guidelines and if such services were ready for the major changes in laboratory medicine as envisaged by the Health Service Executive. METHODS: The 15 recommendations of the 2007 Guidelines were used as a template for a questionnaire, which was distributed by the Irish External Quality Assessment Scheme. RESULTS: Thirty-nine of a possible 45 acute hospitals replied. Only a quarter of respondent hospitals had POCT committees, however, allocation of staff to POCT had doubled since the first baseline survey. Poor IT infrastructure, the use of unapproved devices, and low levels of adverse incident reporting were still major issues. CONCLUSIONS: Point of care testing remains under-resourced, despite the roll out of such devices throughout the health service including primary care. The present high standards of laboratory medicine may not be maintained if the quality and cost-effectiveness of POCT is not controlled. Adherence to national Guidelines and adequate resourcing is essential to ensure patient safety.