Irish Histopathology National Quality Improvement programme helps to inform New Canadian guidelines


The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Pathologists has recently released recommendations to improve the quality of interpretive pathology practice in Canada.

The Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Recommendations aim to enhance patient safety by promoting better and more consistent pathology quality assurance processes across the country.  The framework, which is the first of its kind in Canada, will inform the decision-making process around new and existing quality assurance programmes. It has been recognized by international pathology leaders.

“Pathology leaders across the country recognized that there were gaps in quality assurance activities as it relates to the practice of pathology,” said Dr John Srigley, Expert Lead in Pathology at the Partnership.

Overall the Canadian Quality Initiative in Interpretive Pathology (QIIP) approach is very similar to the Irish Faculty of Pathology QI program approach which is building an internationally respected track record. The document is to be commended for its clarity and comprehensive nature, particularly considering the scale and complexity of catering for such a large and diverse population.

Dr Niall Swan

Chair of the RCPI Histopathology QI Programme welcomes the new recommendations

Ireland leading international advances in Pathology Quality Improvement

In 2014, Ireland was the first country to adopt such a national system with the implementation of the National Quality Assurance Intelligence System (NQAIS). The system has provided a platform for the generation of national reports to allow for the review of the quality of diagnostic surgical pathology from hospital laboratories.

It is used to centrally monitor the practices involved in analysing and interpreting patient tissue samples. The system gives patients greater confidence in the diagnosis of illnesses such as cancer - regardless of whether they are tested at a large or small hospital, either public or private. It will also improve the timeliness of any necessary treatments for patients, which is most important.

The programme has been supported and observed by the Canadian health service in order to adopt a similar system in Canada.

In 2015, the Histopathology National Quality Improvement Programme took away the award for Excellence in Healthcare Management at the Irish Healthcare Awards.

Since the programme commenced, it has continued to progress. There are currently 35 targets or recommendations thus far with a further 27 under consideration.  All publicly funded HSE laboratories are now live on the system, while private laboratories also participate on a voluntary basis. The programme intends to publish new guidelines in 2017.