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Readers respond; COLA accreditation not based on personal opinion.

As members of the laboratory accreditation community, COLA employees benefit greatly from the pertinent news and industry insight provided by Medical Laboratory Observer, including the "Letters to the Editor" page. This is why we were so dismayed by one reader's assertion that COLA's approach to accreditation requires compliance with the personal opinion of the surveyor ["On cord blood labeling," MLO, April 2006, p. 6].

We understand that anxiety levels are often heightened during the inspection process, which is one of the reasons we take an educational approach to accreditation. Our inspectors are there to provide assistance and guidance to the often short-staffed and stressed laboratory staff and directors. Some of COLA's veteran inspectors have completed over 1,000 surveys, a level of experience that exposes them to a wide range of process adaptations and enables them to counsel laboratory staff.

However, at no time is agreeing with an inspector's opinion presented as a condition of compliance. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the specifics of the inspection to which your reader referred. Indeed, our full-time in-house technical support staff stands ready to discuss any questions a lab may have about the practices they have been directed to correct. Thank you for the opportunity to bring clarity to this important issue.


--Mina L. Harkins, MBA, MT(ASCP)

Accreditation Division Manager


Washington, DC

Editor's Note: Ms. Harkins refers to a letter to the editor from an MLO reader regarding an expert's response in Tips from the clinical experts, "Blood cord labeling," February 2006, p. 39, in which that reader asserts that "Personal opinion has no place in the inspection process." We appreciate Ms. Harkins' comments on behalf of COLA.

MLO welcomes letters to the editor. We ask that you include a phone number for verification. While we prefer to publish the writer's name, we will publish a letter with "name withheld by request," but our editorial staff must have the writer's name confirmed for our files. MLO reserves the right to edit any letter for style and length.
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Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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