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A tale of two accreditations

June 16, 2017


On Thursday last week, LMP woke to surprise visits from both the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) to conduct biennial laboratory accreditations of LMP’s molecular and cytogenetics labs, and the transfusion laboratory respectively.

“Both organizations schedule windows of time for assessments to take place – but it’s always a bit of  a surprise when they show up,” says Mary Fountas, Manager, Quality and Safety System, LMP. “We have incredible staff and work to maintain an effective quality system keeping us well prepared and thoroughly organized for unannounced assessments.”

After assessors completed the necessary privacy training – they toured the labs and then hit the books (LMP quality/safety and technical manuals) looking to ensure our lab practices matched our procedures.

The CAP team was able to complete their assessment in one day, and accredited the labs with a 99.9 per cent conformance rate (830 requirements, 1 minor non-conformance). They described the labs as having highly dedicated and experienced staff who are accomplishing very complex testing and making successful strides in implementing the newest technologies in rapidly changing fields.

It took two days for AABB to visit and assess all three UHN transfusion laboratories, but in keeping with LMP standard – the transfusion labs were accredited with a 99+ per cent conformance rate (368 requirements, 2 minor non-conformance) and assessors remarked at the size and scope of the department.

Additionally, both organizations emphasized the mutual learning that comes from peer assessment – and for every recommendation they gave to further improve our quality system, they also took something away that stands to benefit other North American laboratories.

“Our accreditation results bear testimony to the outstanding work the respective teams perform on a daily basis,” says Dr. Runjan Chetty, Interim Medical Director, LMP. “A sincere congratulations to all staff involved.”



Chetty’s Cheetahs cycle with police on tail for entire 2017 Big Bike ride

May 26, 2017

main image

Energized by cowbells, cheering and a good cause, the LMP Big Bike team, Chetty’s Cheetahs livened a dreary May morning by cycling around Queens Park in style (and with an organized police escort).

Led by cytopathology lab technologist and team captain, Mathew Carter, Chetty’s Cheetahs took Toronto General Hospital’s first ride of the day on the Heart and Stroke Foundation‘s 30 seat Big Bike and raised over $3000 to support heart and stroke research and awareness.

It’s a tradition that brings together staff members from across the program and puts their pedaling to the test as they propel an over-sized bike from Toronto General’s University entrance all the way around Queen’s Park.

Though the ride isn’t timed or tracked in any way, this year’s cyclists, many who have participated in the annual event for over half a decade, hit what appeared to be record speeds, and in true cheetah fashion blew through the College/University intersection on their way back to TGH.

This was the second year the big bike held the Chetty’s Cheetahs name representative of LMP interim Medical Director, Dr. Runjan Chetty, and also the second year Mathew led and organized LMP’s involvement.


Check out all the photos from the day below!


CAP/ACP awards LMP’s Martin Grealish with the Lloyd A. Kennedy Pathologists’ Assistant Award

March 31, 2017

award winner


Congratulations to Martin Grealish, LMP Pathologists’ Assistant (PA) for being awarded the Canadian Association of Pathologists’ 2017 Lloyd A. Kennedy Pathologists’ Assistant Award for his outstanding contributions to professional development within the laboratory medicine community.

Most in LMP will know this award is very well deserved due to Martin’s involvement in local continuing education as well as his development of LMP’s Surgical Pathology Education Day, a conference which combines lecture style presentations with hands-on wet lab experience and explanation (shown in photo). He has grown the conference significantly since launching two years ago (Q&A HERE) and has consistently proven a strong champion for the pathologists’ assistant profession and UHN/LMP. Congratulations Martin!


Learn more about CAP/ACP’s awards HERE.



LMP and CSMLS partner in new video series showcasing what goes on “In the Lab”

March 10, 2017

in the lab

In preparation for this year’s National Med Lab Week, taking place April 16-22, UHN’s Laboratory Medicine Program and the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science have come together to launch three videos detailing prominent laboratory tests.

The videos bring our audience into the labs at Toronto General Hospital and allow them to follow UHN Medical Laboratory Technologists through the testing process of Complete Blood Counts, Cross Matching and Protein Electrophoresis.

Check out the videos below, and pass the links on to friends, family and colleagues!


Complete Blood Count

Possibly the most common laboratory test ordered. A complete blood count takes an in-depth look at a patient’s blood and counts the number of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets to monitor a patient’s health and check for abnormalities.


Cross Matching

A necessary step in blood transfusion to ensure donor blood is compatible with the receiving patient. Transfusion Medicine MLTs at UHN conduct this test daily to find the perfect match!


Protein Electrophoresis

Arguably the most complex test we cover in the three part series – protein electophoresis reveals a lot about a patient’s protein levels. Whether there’s too much, too little, or anything in between, UHN MLTs are able to tell physicians  a lot about their patients’ health from electrophoresis.



Special thanks to Jaimelyn Rara, Krista Maracle and Megan Spencer for their enthusiasm to show new audiences how things work ‘In the Lab’!

LMP Chief of Biochemistry receives AACC education award

March 10, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Eleftherios Diamandis, Chief of Biochemistry, LMP for receiving the 2017 American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) award for Outstanding Contributions to Education.


(Photo: University of Toronto)

The award recognizes excellence in education and is given to individuals who have devoted a major portion of their professional life to enhancing the practice and profession of clinical chemistry through education. Award recipients are selected for making significant, innovative, and/or cumulatively outstanding contributions in clinical laboratory science through their teaching, directing, mentoring, writing, and speaking – a feat Dr. Diamandis has achieved in all respects.

With over 20,000 members, the AACC is the largest professional organization of clinical chemists and pathologists, and its annual awards are given to honor those who have advanced laboratory medicine and patient care. This is Dr. Diamandis’ sixth award from the AACC. Winners will be recognized at the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in June.


Full press release available HERE.


Dr. Runjan Chetty discusses his error of distraction: ‘It was an awful feeling.’

February 22, 2017



In case you missed it on UHN News (02.07.2017):

Dr. Runjan Chetty recalls it as an error of distraction.

It was a number of years ago, before Dr. Chetty became Interim Medical Director of the Laboratory Medicine Program at UHN. He was known for an open door policy in his office, so several colleagues came in seeking his input on a lab initiative as Dr. Chetty was reviewing a patient’s pathology case.

“While we all think we can multi-task, we’re really not very good at it,” Dr. Chetty says now. “We can manage our time to do multiple things throughout a day, but doing even two things simultaneously leaves us unnecessarily susceptible to errors.”

That day, the conversation in his office eventually required some mediation. Dr. Chetty weighed in and offered his opinion while finishing up the pathology report, sending the results to the patient’s treating physician.

Problem was, he left out the most important part of the report – the diagnosis.

And it wasn’t until several weeks later that Dr. Chetty realized his error.


Realizing his mistake

The “cliff-hanger” report revealed itself when a new case came in from the same patient. It was a different biopsy sample this time, and when Dr. Chetty looked at the patient’s previous pathology report, signed out by him, he saw the abrupt conclusion – he left out the diagnosis.

“It was an awful feeling,” he says. “Realizing you made a mistake that causes worry and uncertainty for a patient and their family is difficult to accept as a healthcare provider.”

Fortunately the second biopsy was needed regardless to monitor patient response, but Dr. Chetty says it could have ended much differently – potentially causing an at-risk patient to go through a needless biopsy.

Now, Dr. Chetty has a personal policy where he closes his door whenever a patient case is being reviewed, effectively blocking out all possible distractions. It’s not the open door policy he’d like to be projecting, but with safety on the line LMP staff don’t seem to mind knocking.


Caring Safely in UHN labs

Creating a just culture where mistakes are free from shame and blame is a key component of the Caring Safely initiative underway at UHN. And though Dr. Chetty has spoken out about his “error of distraction” to colleagues before, there is now an added emphasis on safety vigilance – especially for areas already facing significant quality and safety regulation.

Three months ago, LMP underwent one of its most extensive external quality and safety reviews, where staff successfully demonstrated safety practices that complied with hundreds of standards mandated by the province.

But, its safety accomplishments such as this that have Dr. Chetty cautioning staff to not let the structure of their environment lead to complacency.

“As a clinical laboratory we are tightly regulated through various accreditation bodies, but there will always be potential for error,” says Dr. Chetty. “Safety should be on the forefront of everybody’s mind and we need to encourage open discussion across all areas of the lab to actively prevent errors.”

Second annual Surgical Pathology conference offers full LMP experience

February 17, 2017



On the last weekend of January, Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP) Pathologists’ Assistants (PA) held the second annual Surgical Pathology Education Day at UHN, offering students and lab professionals a unique mix of conference style lectures and in-lab presentations.

The event was a major success, with over 100 showing up to participate, and it once again set the bar high for future PA conferences.

Lead organizer and LMP PA, Martin Grealish shares more on why he’s developed the conference and what delegates can expect in the future in this five question Q&A.


  1. What is Surgical Pathology education day?

Within the PA industry we often find challenges in identifying subject specific continuing education. There are a few PA specific annual conferences put on by the Canadian and Ontario Associations of Pathologists, but with them being spread across the country or province – we saw an opportunity to organize something locally. It’s now our second year hosting the event and we basically bring together local PAs, MLTs (medical laboratory technologist) and really anybody interested in surgical pathology to hear and learn from industry professionals and receive meaningful continuing education credits.


  1. What does the day entail?

We hold lectures for the first part of the day, and really try to include something for everyone. This year we had:

  • “Training, Competency and Continuing Education”                                                                         – Sarah James, Senior PA, UHN, and Alan Wolff, Supervisor, Pathology, Lakeridge Health
  • “Radiation Safety Considerations for Radioactive Specimens in Pathology”                            – Gina Capone, Senior Radiation Safety Specialist, UHN
  • “Gastrointestinal Surgery”                                                                                                                         – Dr. Fayez Quereshy, GI staff Surgeon, UHN
  • “Grossing Gastrointestinal Specimens”                                                                                                – Colin Elliot and Will Tsui, PAs, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • “Telepathology and the Importance of the Technologist”                                                              – Dr. Andrew Evans, Genitourinary staff Pathologist, UHN

One area that really garnered interest was having a GI (gastrointestinal) surgery presentation followed by a GI grossing presentation. As PAs we receive colon and GI surgical specimens every day, so it was really interesting having Dr. Quereshy share what happens in the peripheral stages of our work. Then having the grossing lecture afterwards just made for a great continuation, and some interesting back and forth discussion.


Another thing we really focus on is fulfilling the continuing education needs of our audience. With a lot of institutions and certification bodies requiring a safety component as part of their annual continuing education requirements, it was important for us to fold in at least one safety lecture, and Gina’s radioactive specimen presentation fit perfectly.

The second part of the day was dedicated to in-lab workshops, which were held concurrently with groups rotating every 30 minutes.

  • “Paediatric Gastrointestinal Pathology”                                                                                                – Sue Cromwell, Senior PA, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • “Genitourinary Pathology”                                                                                                                         – Martin Grealish, PA, UHN
  • “Sarcoma Pathology”                                                                                                                                    – Colin Elliot, Nadia Saito and Will Tsui, PAs, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • “Telepathology”                                                                                                                                             – Zoya Volynskaya, UHN
  • “Paediatric Cardiac Pathology”                                                                                                                 – Konstantin Krutikov, PA, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • “Round table scenario and grossing discussion”                                                                                – Sarah James, Senior PA, UHN, and Alan Wolff, Supervisor, Pathology, Lakeridge Health

This is definitely what differentiates us from other conferences. Getting to come right into the labs and view surgical pathology specimens up close is a rare opportunity for non PAs and is a huge draw for delegates. It also allows the conference to become more personal and get attendees more engaged, as the workshop groups averaged at just 15 people per session.


  1. What type of feedback have you received?

So we had 103 people attend including delegates, speakers, and volunteers and in our feedback survey we received an 89 per cent in terms of satisfaction. That number’s based on a five point scale of quality and means we were marked with either fours or fives from all attendees that completed the survey.

Overall, I think it was a major success, and our attendees, who came from as far as London to Oshawa and Niagara to Sault Ste. Marie all left satisfied.


  1. This is the second year you’ve hosted the conference – how did this year compare to the first?

Well, we had more people this time around – which was great. Having only four workshops was a limiting factor for us last year, so by adding two we were immediately able to increase capacity by 50 per cent. We also had more volunteers and higher satisfaction in our feedback survey.

The structure of the day was a similar format to last year which I think works well and is well received. Also like the first year, we had great involvement from other institutions, including Lakeridge Health, Michener, Mount Sinai and SickKids. And though we’re not official partners with each organization, on the greater scale of healthcare and Toronto hospitals – we’re all colleagues and need to support each other.  There is lots of skill and talent at each of our organizations and this works as a great platform to show that off.


  1. What would you say to people thinking of attending next year’s conference?

I would say, please join us for our next event. The topics are interesting. The speakers are engaging. Attendees are consistently satisfied. Our format is unique and there are very few opportunities to attend the kind of specimen workshops we provide. It is a fun way to get continuing education hours and a great way to network within the local Laboratory Medicine and Surgical Pathology community.



The second annual Surgical Pathology Education Day was sponsored by:
ESBE Scientific and Huron Digital Pathology