The culture of change in the clinical laboratory environment is important in the health care system. It ensures that the environment is always up to date with the most recent medical needs of patients at any given time. It is also the best way to ensure that technology has been embraced and is beneficial to the health sector. The laboratory environment is one of the most crucial parts of the hospital environment. It is the section of the hospital environment that holds the health of the patients and the safety of the hospital workers. When patients require testing, accuracy or lack thereof, is determined by the environment in the laboratory. When the laboratory environment is up to standard, the quality of the work done are easily certifiable. A standard laboratory is one which has good safety structures and conducive working stations for the technicians to operate in.
There are there areas that require keen planning and structuring within the laboratory environments. These include, the methods of collecting the specimen, the testing of the specimen and the eventual reporting of the results from the tests. The collection of specimen has to be precise and near perfect to ensure that the results achieved are accurate. The testing methods and environments have to be well designed to ensure the safety of the technicians and at the same time prevent the contamination of the specimen. This gives people the chance and opportunity to get quality services and results from the clinical laboratories. The final stage of the laboratory process is the delivery methods and structures of the results. When the results are well documented, the laboratory is said to have good quality operations. The quality of results are what make the laboratory a valid department in the hospital.
The three sections of the laboratory operations are supposed to work seamlessly to ensure that people can always get credible results. Change in clinical laboratory is supposed to be well structured so that it is effective and acceptable. It is also free from resistance by the concerned parties when adequate communication is made (PROSCI, 2017). Communication involves discussions and making plans for the changes to be effected in the laboratory environment. It entails the current structure of the laboratory environment being reviewed and improved to match the new and upcoming laboratory operation standards.
Quality services in the laboratories goes beyond good and credible results to the structures of the laboratory. The materials used in building, the design and the procedures are part of the quality assurance reference points for a laboratory environment. It is important that when putting up a clinical laboratory, all the equipment to be installed is considered. For instance; a laboratory with radiation emitting machines should be well reinforced to protect the people working in it and the patients. The safety of the laboratory workers is the biggest challenge that hospitals face. The laboratory experts are supposed to ensure that anytime a laboratory has problems of safety, it is reported promptly and that is the purpose of change in the laboratory environment.
A laboratory in the clinical sector of the hospital is supposed to cater for most of the diagnosis procedures that doctors undertake. The doctors always work hand in hand with the laboratories in making proper diagnosis for their patients. The tests they recommend guide the laboratory experts on what type of specimen to collect and what kind of solutions to run in testing the specimen collected. The safety of the laboratory technicians is often left to the laboratory workers to ensure. Most of the time that the laboratory technicians get injured in line of duty is caused by either negligence or faulty laboratory structures like fume chambers that have a leak. Such a fault may lead the technicians to develop respiratory issues and this is a failure in the securing the laboratory environment. Such are the things that inspire change in the laboratory environment.
Previous studies have been done on whether the change in the laboratory environment is necessary or not. It has been the argument of many experts that the laboratory structure is made flexible (Allison, The Center for Health Design, 2003). The flexibility is what would allow change to take place often and take into consideration new laboratory operations to upgrade the quality. With the upgrade in technology, the laboratory being the third largest hospital department has not been left behind. It is important to note that the environment of the laboratory has been changing to cut operational costs and produce the best possible results. The efficiency of the laboratories is also considered when designing change in the environments. The basics of laboratories like the surfaces and the equipment to be used is highly considered in evaluating change. The clinical laboratories handle the biggest numbers of tests compared to all other type of laboratories combined (National Centre for BioTechnology Information, 2000). This is because they handle all clinical tests for inpatients, outpatients and medical research tests. At the same time, when introducing change to a clinical laboratory, the employees need to be part of the change process to ensure that it is successful and nobody feels left out (Kotter & Cohen, 2002). The change in the laboratory environment is an important factor to consider when evaluating the quality of laboratory operations. The employees in a clinical laboratory should be brought on board for the change process at the fourth change step where the communication for the vision is done. This means that the employees will be educated on what will change about their work and how it will improve their working conditions and operations.
The changes in the laboratory environments is important in the quality of the laboratory operations. The changes need to take the see-feel-change method to ensure that the employees do not feel manipulated into changing the systems of work and modes of operation. The see-feel change approach ensures that change starts small and the results are seen gradually. It is the most efficient approach when dealing with experienced workers in the clinical laboratory environment. This approach ensures that the workers get to understand why change is necessary for their operations and eventually warm up to change in the laboratory environment (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).The laboratory changes are necessary to ensure the quality of services a hospital offers are good and safe for the workers and the patients (National Research Council, 2011).
1.5 Specimen Collection
The collection of specimen for test in clinical laboratories is an exercise that requires skill and keenness. Contamination of the specimen often leads to wrong results being found. In a hospital setting, wrong results are usually matters of life and death. It often results in people ending up with health conditions that cannot be reversed due to small testing errors. The equipment used in collecting specimens in the laboratories have to be accurate and adequately upgraded. This is to prevent the possibility of equipment failing and delaying results for patients. In some cases a delay in diagnosis leads to a life threatening situation like permanent paralysis or even death. (Allison, Nature and Rate of Change in Clinical Laboratories, 2003). The method of collection has to be changed to achieve a standard that results in quality. The equipment used to transport specimen must be the latest and most effective type for the quality.
The methods for testing specimens have to be upgraded accordingly and regularly to ensure that the patients being tested get clear results. The methods have to be well structured and thorough for the safety of patients. The technology applied in studying the specimen must be of good quality and standard for the safety of the workers and the patients. (Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version, 2011). The evaluation of the specimen must be of certified quality at all times. This means that at no time will the laboratory technicians give results that cannot be replicated by different people in a different laboratory.
The equipment used for testing specimens in the laboratories is supposed to be designed in a way that enhances the quality of results from the laboratories. The safety standard of the working environment of the laboratory is as important as the results produced from there. It is important that when testing the specimen in the laboratories, the people working in these areas take all the stipulated safety measures. The quality of the laboratory environment is determined by the efficiency of the laboratory operations. The cost of running a laboratory must be proportional to the work load it can handle.
1.7 Results Recording and Reporting
The recording of results from the specimen has to adhere to good quality also. This means that the records can be read and understood by other people without the assistance of the one who made the tests. The reporting methods for laboratory results have to be well structured and systematic. Step by step reporting is necessary for the doctors to make diagnosis without skipping a crucial sign in the process. Technology is important for the purposes of references and assistance in the future of laboratory improvement projects when dealing with changes. Technology can be used to document progress in a change project by comparing the recording and reporting efficiency of the results.
When the records are easily accessible, then more progress can be made in clinical research projects. Technology in this area is important in enabling change. Laboratory environments have to be designed critically down to the smallest detail to enhance the recording efficiency of the laboratory workers. It is efficient and up to date when the change procedures are well researched and applied.
1.8 Challenges Faced In Effecting Change in the Clinical Laboratory Environment
The biggest challenge in effecting change in the clinical laboratory environment is convincing the older people to embrace change in the clinical laboratory environment. The older people may be resistant to the introduction of technology to the laboratory environment for fear of being replaced by younger laboratory workers. This can happen as a result of technology being too difficult for them to learn and use effectively. The technology used in the testing, collecting and storage of specimen may be complex and constantly developing at a pace they feel makes their skills outdated. To change these, it is important to make them understand that it is possible to use technology to make their work easier and more efficient. This will apply the first step of change which is to create an urgency for change. At this point, the employees have the chance to buy into the idea of change and are more likely to embrace it when introduced.
The best way so far as per the Kotter and Cohen text for effecting change in an organization is to apply the see-feel change approach. It is the most gentle to employees and most effective for proper change management in any organization, this also applies to the clinical laboratory environments. The Kotter and Cohen text also advocates for people showing by example what they intend to achieve by the change in operations. For instance; they advocate for a cost cutting exercise that begins with the managerial team trimming their own expenditure visibly. This will ensure that people can also join the band wagon to reduce the expenditure of the organization relatively. This is an example of the see-feel change approach that in a clinical laboratory environment can be more effective. It is also important to note that when this happens, the older workers will eventually want to be part of the movement and will be open to learning how to use technology rather than seeing their jobs being lost due to rigidity.
Education, communication and goal creation is one way of ensuring that change takes place regularly, it becomes a culture. When goals are created especially short-term goals and the employees are able to achieve the, then it becomes easier to achieve the overall organizational goal for the clinical laboratory environments. The employees will always feel encouraged to find better ways of operating in the laboratories and when the innovations and ideas come from them, none of them is likely to feel left out when the idea of change is adopted. This is also part of the see-feel change cycle where the employee are empowered to act (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).
Sourcing adequate funding for upgrading laboratory practices and equipment is crucial for maintenance of quality laboratories. Hospitals have to find new ways of generating income and funding for upgrading their equipment. It is important that the laboratory practices are well funded to cater for the creativity of scientists to allow for the possible innovation of more lifesaving innovations.
1.8.2 Value of Change in laboratory environments
Change in equipment and funding in the operations of the laboratories is important because it leads to better and more accurate results from the laboratories. The operations are fashioned around the needs of the patients and at the same time takes care of the safety of the laboratory workers. Their health is as important as the work they do. The new equipment will always be met with resistance initially but when the management handles the change effectively, they are likely to pull encourage employees to adopt to change.
When change in the laboratory scene is permitted, people can get creative and innovate better functioning clinical laboratories. Innovation and creativity is usually as a result of people seeking comfort at their places of work. The importance of comfort is that people are in a position to expand their performance abilities. When a researcher has everything available, they can effectively conduct studies and contribute to positive changes in designs. The value of change is well reflected in the quality of results produced from the clinical laboratories. The health care practices overall are improved when less erratic diagnosis are made and people receive quality health care. Hospitals become more efficient and the health services more reliable.
Change in the laboratory operations is likely to be very effective if it improves the accuracy of diagnosis for patients. More accurate diagnosis means less preventable deaths and serious health conditions. Laboratory changes are crucial to the health of people in the society. Change is usually an upgrade which means better performances and efficiencies. The improvement of laboratory environments ensures that the technicians are not exposed to danger while at work. It is important to take of the welfare of workers in the hospitals letting to reduce the occurrence of work related injuries. In the long run, the quality of health care is most important. Improving laboratory practices, environments and structures ensures the safety of health workers. Overall health care is tied to laboratory practices because the diagnosis and evaluation tests are conducted in the laboratories. The tests are the key factors in evaluating the standards of health care and the quality of care in hospitals.
Effecting change in clinical laboratory environment is possible using the eight step model for change, where the first step is creating a sense of urgency and the final step is anchoring change. This means that when looking for ways to make the laboratory environments more efficient, it is important to consider the fact that the employees need time and direction for them to adopt change. It is also important that people have the ability to effect change and not let any employee feel out of place. The see-feel change approach is the most effective in implementing the eight step model of change by Kotter and Cohen.
Allison, D. (2003). Nature and Rate of Change in Clinical Laboratories. Boulevard: The Center for Health Designs.
Allison, D. (2003). The Center for Health Design. Retrieved from Nature and Rate of Chnage in Clinical Laboratories: www.healthdesign.org/chd/research/nature-and-rate-change-clinical-laboratories
Kotter, J., & Cohen, D. (2002). The Heart of Change. Havard Business School Press.
National Centre for BioTechnology Information. (2000). National Centre for BioTechnology Information. Washington: National Academics Press. Retrieved from National Academy of Sciences.
National Research Council. (2011). Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Mnagemnt of Chemical Hazards. Washington: National Academics Press.
PROSCI. (2017). Roles in Change Management. Retrieved from Prosci: www.prosci.com/change-management/thought-leadership-library/roles-in-chnage-management
Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version. (2011). Retrieved from National Academic Press: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55867/
Radiol, A. (2007). The Prevalence Effect in a Laboratory Environment: Changing the Confidence Ratings. US National Library of Medicine.
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