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RMC awarded top lab accreditation

CONYERS — Rockdale Medical Center recently earned high marks for its laboratory services department where everything from blood work to tissue samples are processed and analyzed.

The RMC laboratory services earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Laboratory Accreditation. RMC Lab Director Gary Layman said the hospital already earned accreditation from the state and the College of American Pathologists, but wanted to meet the mark for The Joint Commission because it’s a well-known entity that requires an even higher standard of care and quality.

It’s the first time RMC has garnered The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Laboratory Accreditation, said Layman, and he reached out to The Joint Commission in January to apply for an evaluation.

“We’re just proud of it. We have to maintain some pretty rigorous standards,” said Layman of the accreditation.

The team of inspectors visited the hospital unannounced for three days in April and evaluated areas including document and process control, health care-associated conditions, risk reduction and staff education.

Layman said the inspectors looked at the quality of the record-keeping, delved into staff records including what kind of training they received and their educational backgrounds, and how equipment is maintained. They followed blood sample processing, observed transfusions and even interviewed patients.

Layman said that considering the infection and other risks involved with procedures such as blood work and transfusions, the inspectors paid particular attention to patient safety.

“They are really big on protecting the patients,” said Layman.

RMC joins roughly 2,000 other organizations, including hospital and public health laboratories, reference labs, and blood transfusion and donor centers, in obtaining the laboratory accreditation, awarded on a two-year cycle.

“Joint Commission accreditation gives laboratories the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas from specimen collection to result reporting,” said Chad Larson, interim executive director of The Joint Commission’s Laboratory Accreditation Program, in a press release from RMC.

“We commend Rockdale Medical Center for its efforts to have laboratory services contribute and support the overall health care delivery system.”

The RMC laboratory not only provides results of blood work, but also performs transfusions, and provides analyses of tissue and body fluids. Whether its monitoring medication via blood work or providing results of tests of tissue for cancer, the lab is integral to monitoring patient health, said Layman.

He said reports show that 70 percent of diagnostic decisions are made on a daily basis based on laboratory data.

“The doctors look at everything we produce,” he said.

Layman, who has served as lab director at RMC since 1987, said his staff of 80 treats patients ranging in age from babies to senior citizens, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

“It’s never boring,” said Layman.

A non-profit founded in 1951, The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S. and is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care, according to a press release from RMC.

“Rockdale Medical Center is pleased to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” said Deborah Armstrong, chief executive officer of Rockdale Medical Center.

“Being accredited means we are focused on continual performance improvement. Pathologists and other laboratory staff are working together to develop and implement approaches and strategies that have the potential to improve care for the patients in our community.”