How Often Should You Revisit Your SOPs?

    

Standard Operating Procedures are mostly a best practices guide for labs. Despite this being true, how often do you go back and review your SOPs?

It's a good idea to go back and review these often since they're easy to forget after a time.

You may think you can make your SOPs work on automatic pilot for years to come. In truth, changes can occur and leave you vulnerable to make mistakes. New employees may come in to your lab as well, requiring them to review your SOPs to keep things running efficiently.

So what items should you review in your SOPs? Here's a list of some things to look at again so everyone is on the same page.

Your Business Continuity Plans
Is your histology lab truly set up to withstand disasters? A business continuity plan should become one of your SOPs, even if you've maybe forgotten some of the details. If you have a plan in writing, review it with your staff, including new employees.

List the technologies you'll put in place if you happen to lose power or face a natural disaster. Plus, review what you'd do if you experience theft or an inadvertent disaster from one of your employees. Any scenario is possible, so reviewing how you'll keep your lab running is essential to avoid costly downtime.

Procedures for Repetitive Tasks
Working in a lab is going to mean doing some repetitive tasks that could easily go wrong if not reviewed. It's always a good idea to review your SOPs on these tasks so newer employees don't do a procedure wrong. All it takes is one wrong step and it could create a multitude of errors. In turn, you'll end up violating compliance laws, which only leads to expensive fines. Reviewing policies can also help make repetitive situations in the lab less grueling and less susceptible to second-guessing.

Reviewing Quality Assurance
Dealing with quality control or quality assurance in your lab can also easily slip without remembering every step or updating. QA demands may continually change in your lab based on new compliance rules, or expectations from your sponsors.

When you're working on a critical study, quality assurance is imperative to avoid doing something wrong that ruins your reputation. The same goes in how you store your materials, including quality in the storage units you use.

What kind of policies do you have in file storage methods you use, as well as freezer and refrigeration units?

If you're still lax in these areas, you might want to update your SOPs, or even outsource.

Safety Procedures and Equipment
Don't let your safety procedures and safety equipment go by the wayside in your histology lab. Some of this may need updating as well to adjust for new lab procedures you use, or upgrading your security tech.  To prevent theft or other disasters, you may need to invest in new alarm systems or even fire suppression technology.

You may know what you need from your SOPs, though can you realistically afford them?

Finding Proper SOPs in an Outsourced Lab
Since your budget may not allow you to invest in proper equipment, outsourcing to a third-party lab is a smart choice. A good reason is they'll uphold GLP and have top-tier SOPs to maintain quality. This is going to include properly trained employees who do studies for you without mistakes. It also means proper storage with the best freezer and refrigeration brands. Plus, proper security systems (including fire suppression) can live up to the SOPs you once had in place.

Contact us at HSRL to use our outsourced lab services where we'll adhere to all your SOPs for superior results.

HSRL Specializes in Histopathology & Specimen Storage Services

 

Tom Galati
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Galati, CEO and Laboratory Director, founded HSRL in February 1999 after receiving his education at George Mason University and James Madison University. He started the company to provide histology services to pharmaceuticals companies, government researchers and Contract Research Organizations. Mr. Galati expanded the company to include archiving services since 2005 and pathology services since 2006. Tom serves as General Manager and oversees the business operations of HSRL. He is also the Director of HSRL’s long term archives. His experience includes overseeing the processing of over 1,000 GLP studies at HSRL including toxicologic studies, neurotoxicity studies, reproductive toxicology studies, inhalation studies, sub-chronic and carcinogenicity studies. Tom attends several symposia each year including: Society of Toxicology, Society of Toxicologic Pathology, Society of Experimental Biology, Society of Quality Assurance, American College of Toxicology, National Society for Histotechnology and American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

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