Most POCT operators are clinical personnel who may not have formal laboratory training yet carry a full load of patient care responsibilities. A top priority of competency assessment for POCT operators is to prevent it from interfering with their already diverse set of duties by making it as convenient as possible.
A simple way for a POCC to facilitate this goal is to upload the forms needed to complete a direct observation onto his or her hospital's intranet or POCT website for quick and easy access. This is a particularly beneficial consideration for areas with low test volumes, as it allows a direct observation to be completed whenever the opportunity arises.
The POCC may also consider making blind samples available in a central location (e.g., a refrigerator in the POCT office) so they are equally accessible to testing personnel on all shifts. Result sheets, testing supplies and all other necessary equipment should also be readily available.
If electronic educational software is available, a POCC can use it to create learning modules for remedial training, administer written competency tests and educate operators when minor procedure changes occur. Reviewing the questions repeatedly missed on these modules can lead to process improvement by identifying common areas of confusion.
Maureen R. Bush is point-of-care coordinator, Bay Medical Center, Panama City, FL.