Quality assurance and risk reduction guidelines
Cervical cancer continues to be a major cause of death in women worldwide. The major problem facing most women is the unavailability of screening Pap tests in poor and underdeveloped countries. While rates of cancer deaths have decreased 60-80% in developed countries since the Pap test became available, the accuracy of Paps was challenged recently. In order to instill public confidence and promote optimal patient care, measures to improve the quality of the entire screening process should be undertaken. Continuous quality improvement processes are more appropriate than traditional quality assurance monitors. Although no standards can be defined that are applicable to all laboratory settings and nations, this document provides current views on universal quality procedures and risk reduction. Procedure/policy manuals, workload assessment, hierarchic/peer review, discrepancy analysis, rescreening studies and cytohistologic correlation are examples of universally applicable quality tools. The variability in practices in different parts of the world is also discussed.