For immediate release
May 2, 2018
Kristie Garcia, Public Information Officer,
New Mexico Department of Agriculture
New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Lab receives international accreditation
Certification marks first ever for NMDA’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services Division
Albuquerque, New Mexico
For the first time in its existence, the NMDA’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services Division is a fully-certified. They are now a certified International Organization for Standardization (ISO) laboratory.
The ISO 17025 certification means the Veterinary Diagnostic Services lab has met the qualifications of an accredited testing lab. The accreditation demonstrates the lab’s capacity to deliver reliable results.
Dr. Tim Hanosh, NMDA’s VDS Division Director, said the certification process took many years. It was an amazing effort by the staff.
“People do not realize how much time and effort everyone in the lab dedicated…” said Hanosh. “Saying I’m proud is an understatement. The certification speaks for itself.”
Located in Albuquerque, the VDS lab tests numerous animal samples, including carcasses for necropsies (animal autopsies). They also perform tissue samples, bacterial swabs, as well as bodily fluids, such as blood, serum and plasma.
The ISO 17025 standards include developing a quality management system, which determines how the laboratory will operate.
“The reason we need a quality management system is to ensure that our quality is at the highest level. We spent years putting together this quality system. It took a lot of time and a lot of effort.”
The document known as the quality manual is the framework for the lab. Everyone is required to read the manual and sign off that they understand it. Lab employees have to prove that they can perform the work successfully. Proficiency tests are administered and have to be successfully completed annually, at minimum. The VDS staff also has a test on the quality management system and on its iPassport database. The test is created by lab staff.
“Everybody supplies questions and answers and has to support their answers,” said Hanosh. “We compile everyone’s questions, we create a test from those questions, and everybody must pass.”
Once the quality system was established, a third party that specializes in ISO 17025 certification performed an audit. The audit included reviewing documentation and standards, as well as observing procedures. It also includes interviewing the employees and laboratorians, in order to determine whether the lab met the ISO standards.
Hanosh said the key to achieving the accreditation was buy-in.
“When we’re going after something with such a magnitude, two different areas are involved. One of those areas is our upper management,” he said. “We must have support from up above, so we have to have buy-in … from other key people. What makes it work is that everybody in the lab has to buy in and take some sort of ownership.”
New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said the accreditation reflects the high quality at which the lab operates.
“The accreditation verifies that we have a lab operating at the highest level …” said Witte. “We are proud of the services that VDS provides to our citizens and the work they do for animal health.”
Hanosh said depending on the area of the lab in which they work, employees have to tested. They have to read, understand and prove that they’re able to follow certain applicable SOPs.
“So, if you work in the molecular biology lab, you would read all of the molecular SOPs,” he said. “If you worked in administration, you would read all of the admin SOPs, so on and so forth.”
The accreditation is valid for two years. During that time, the same accrediting body will perform a re-audit to ensure the lab continues to meet the standards. Then it will alternate between an on-site audit one year and an online audit the next year.
Hanosh said the accreditation shows the lab is self-critical and also gives the public peace of mind.
“We want to test ourselves to ensure we’re doing the best that we possibly can,” he said. “…New Mexico residents need to know that we have attained the highest level possible for our laboratory. They should have comfort in that the results we produce from our lab are meeting the highest standards possible.”
– NMDA –