Blood Banks: Get “Inspection-Ready” with these Tips and Resources

Avoid panic! 3 Tips to make your inspection a proactive, collaborative, and educational experience

While the purpose of a blood bank inspection is ultimately educational, does the mere mention of it invoke anxiety in your staff? We’d like to help put some of that to rest with solid resources and some sound advice.

In this VUEPOINT, we guide you to two journal articles that are educational about the “who, when and why” of lab inspections, giving practical advice and resource links.

We were also fortunate to speak with Jim Baldridge, MT (ASCP) SBB, who is the Manager of Blood Bank Pathology at Providence – Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, California. Jim has been involved in the business of blood banks for almost 35 years, has performed AABB assessments, and currently conducts CAP (College of American Pathologists) inspections. And, you’ll find that Jim’s real-life experience supports the recommendations provided in the two articles.

3 Things you can do to prepare and get the most from your inspection

Jim Baldridge’s suggestions mirrored some of those you’ll see in both articles – including “locate, review and complete the reference guide (or checklist) that the inspector will use.” Here are three tips from Jim:

Tip #1
“Prior to the inspection, go through the checklist and have everything located and notated for the inspector,” said Jim. “This will allow the inspector to get to exactly what they are looking for, and move on. Use the checklist like a script.”

He also noted that this method of preparation allows the lab to have a permanent checklist that you can “roll forward” to the next inspection. “When revisions to the checklist are published you can address those new requirements, but you’ve already laid the groundwork for your inspection by completing the bulk of the work.”

Tip #2
Start a folder and keep copies of questions asked and documents requested during the inspection. “As the inspection progresses, it’s helpful to make a list of any questions that are asked, and make yourself a copy of any records the inspector requests – and put them in a folder. At the end of the day, you can go through the folder and debrief yourself – and prepare for the next day.” He also noted that it’s a good time to make notes for future inspections – – and this takes the pressure off of you to trust your memory!

Tip #3 
Look at the inspection as a collaborative process and expect positive outcomes. “I’ve found that in most inspections I’ve learned things and gotten good ideas. I’ve been able to borrow procedures and forms from others, and incorporate them into my policies. This is particularly true with CAP inspections, since they are peer reviews,” he added. “Preparation respects the time of the inspector, and a positive, collaborative attitude can help you get the most from the experience.”

Helpful journal articles

They’re Here! How to Prepare Your Blood Bank for Inspection was published in the April 24, 2015 issue of LabMedicine1, and provides a wealth of information. It’s a valuable resource, with helpful links at the end. In the article you’ll find:
• Overview of Agencies that perform inspections – CMS, FDA, AABB and CAP
• Explanation of terms used in inspections
• Practical Advice from 3 individuals – a QA specialist, a blood bank manager and an assessor
Click here for PDF

Is it an inspection, audit or assessment?

Per the article, while the agencies use different terminology, these terms are often used interchangeably, as are the terms ‘checklist’ and ‘assessment tool.’ You’ll find explanations of all of these terms in the article.

“Is Your Lab Inspection Ready?”
This article appeared in Medical Laboratory Observer2, June 2013, and provides a comprehensive list of the various organizations, and includes detailed information about their purposes, resources and checklists (assessment tools), where applicable. (Please note that since this article was published in 2013, some links may be invalid).