Path towards Medical Lab quality assurance

Nilai International University College (Nilai UC) in collaboration with Gribbles Pathology (M) Sdn Bhd and College of Pathologists, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (CPath, AAM), organised a Conference on Regulatory Issues in Laboratory Medicine on 16 Jan 2008 at the Hilton Hotel, Petaling Jaya.

The aim of the conference was to discuss, debate and educate participants on the recently passed Pathology Act 2007 that is expected to have far reaching implications on private medical laboratories. Deputy Minister of Health Datuk Dr Hj Abd Latiff Bin Ahmad officiated the opening of the conference and said in his speech that it was hoped that the Pathology Act would promote greater professionalism in this sphere of medical care as well as boost the numbers of skilled and qualified workers.

Of greater concern was how the Pathology Act would impact the sphere of education. At the moment, it is possible for form five school leavers or similarly unqualified staff to work in pathology labs. As pointed out by Nilai UC's Professor Emeritus Tengku Dato' Shamsul Bahrin who said in his welcoming speech, "Laboratory testing influences medical decision-making. A patient's well-being depends greatly on the quality of work carried out at the laboratory testing stages. Hence the need for greater quality control.

"Tengku Shamsul also went on to say that he hoped that the days of the ad hoc health stall enticing customers with free health tests were numbered with the introduction of the Pathology Act. "It would seem plain common sense to leave the diagnosis of tests results to a qualified medical practitioner. Similarly, the conducting of such tests should also be left to qualified Medical Laboratory Technology personnel who have gone through the proper education and training," he added.

Prof Emeritus Tengku Dato Shamsul Bahrin (president of Nilai UC) chats with the Deputy Minister of Health Datuk Dr Hj Abd Latiff Bin Ahmad whilst Prof Looi Lai Meng (president of Cpath) looks on.

Among the speakers who were invited to present at the conference was Prof Dr Looi Lai Meng, president of CPath, AMM, who was instrumental in the drafting of the Act. "This Act has been almost a lifetime's work for me as I first proposed it in 1983 and to finally have an Act is an immense satisfying. Having said that, there's still plenty of views we need to take into consideration as the rules and regulations have yet to be formed," said Prof Looi.

Other speakers at the Conference were Prof Cheah Phaik Leng (secretary of CPath), Dr Christopher Ting Yew Ping (Gribbles Pathology Sdn Bhd) and Dr Carol Kwan (Quest Laboratory). A panel discussion chaired by Nilai UC's Dato' Dr Sothi Rachagan was also held which saw the finer points of the Pathology Act being dissected by the panel members and participants alike.