Courtney Shrader, MSHS, MLS(ASCP)CM, CPHQ

Integrating a culture of safety into the clinical laboratory requires hard work and teamwork. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help healthcare professionals create or improve the safety culture provided on the ASCLS Patient Safety website. This article will highlight some of the resources available.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)1

AHRQ provides a wide array of quality and patient safety tools to help build a culture of safety, such as:

  • AHRQ Patient Safety Culture Survey: Healthcare organizations can survey staff to assess the current culture of safety in the organization, using the data to provide guidance on improvement. This survey also provides national benchmark data against which to compare.
  • Improving Your Laboratory Testing Process Toolkit: A toolkit to help ambulatory practices improve the laboratory process from test order to notifying the patient of the result.
  • Team Strategies & Tools to Enhance Performance & Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS): TeamSTEPPS is a curriculum to improve communication and teamwork. The curriculum provides a classroom option and a self-paced course.
American Society of Quality (ASQ)2

ASQ provides specific tools to improve quality and patient safety. ASQ also has publications presenting benchmarking data and case studies. Some of the quality tools provided by ASQ are:

  • DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control): DMAIC is a framework used to drive quality and change to improve patient safety and processes.
  • Fishbone Diagram: Fishbone diagrams are used to determine root causes of a problem.
  • Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Cycle: The PDCA cycle is a model for implementing change. The cycle encourages small tests of changes to ensure new ideas provide desirable results.
  • Flowchart or Process Map: A tool where a process is mapped out and assessed to determine ways to improve the process to prevent error and reduce waste.
Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)3

IHI provides a Patient Safety Essentials Toolkit for healthcare teams to use to improve patient safety. The toolkit includes tools to perform root cause analyses, implement daily safety huddles, create reliable processes, and improve communication among healthcare professionals.

The Joint Commission4

The Joint Commission publishes National Patient Safety Goals for laboratory services yearly. National Patient Safety Goals are top issues in patient safety on which laboratories should focus. The 2020 National Patient Safety Goals for the laboratory are to identify patients correctly, improve staff communication, and prevent infection.

Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare (PSQH)5

PSQH is an electronic journal with articles, webinars, and resources on patient safety topics. Topics include improving staff and patient well-being, communication strategies, and best practices from other healthcare organizations.

ASCLS Patient Safety Matters6

The ASCLS Patient Safety Matters webpage includes links to these resources mentioned above and many others. The page also thoroughly explains patient safety, presents “Patient Safety Tips” brochures specific to laboratory topics, and provides details regarding patient safety indicators.


  1. Agency for Healthcare Reserach and Quality. (n.d.). Tools. Retrieved from AHRQ:
  2. American Society for Quality. (2020). Quality Resources. Retrieved from ASQ:
  3. Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (2020). Tools. Retrieved from IHI:
  4. Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare. (2020). Resources.Retrieved from PSHQ:
  5. The Joint Commission. (2020). Laboratory Services: 2020 National Patient Safety Goals. Retrieved from The Joint Commission:
  6. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. (2020). Patient Safety Resources. Retrieved from ASCLS:

Courtney Shrader is Regulatory and Quality Systems Program Manager for UW Health Transplant Center in Madison, Wisconsin.