About the pathology accreditation standards

The pathology accreditation standards used in Australia protects the public from harm and ensures consistency in pathology practice.

Overview

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is responsible for supporting the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council in its work to develop the pathology standards. The Commission also has a role in overseeing the accreditation process. These responsibilities was transferred from the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) on 1 July 2021.

The Commission is working with accrediting agencies, pathology providers, technical experts, consumers, representative groups and other government agencies to fulfil its functions.

The pathology standards gives consumers, families, carers, clinicians and service providers the confidence that services such blood tests or tissue analyses meet the safety and quality expectations of the public and the Australian healthcare system.

National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council

The National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) is responsible for developing and maintaining the accreditation standards for pathology laboratories in Australia.

NPAAC is a statutory committee established under subsection 9(1) of the National Health Act 1953 through an Order in Council. The Order in Council outlines NPAAC’s role, membership and function and was last updated in 2003.

NPAAC membership consists of pathology experts from various professional and scientific organisations, consumers and representatives from the states and territories and the Australian Government.

NPAAC’s other functions include:

  • developing accreditation policies for pathology laboratories
  • introducing and maintaining consistent standards of practice in pathology laboratories throughout Australia
  • initiating, promoting and coordinating education programs relating to pathology laboratory practice
  • providing advice about the accreditation of a particular laboratory.

For more details about NPAAC, look at:

Additional advisory committees and working groups support NPAAC’s statutory functions and assist in delivering on its work program.

Implementation of the standards

In 1986, the Australian Government introduced compulsory accreditation for pathology laboratories. To claim benefits under Medicare as an accredited provider, pathology laboratories must be assessed to and meet the national pathology accreditation standards.

The pathology accreditation standards underpin the accreditation requirements specified in the Health Insurance (Accredited Pathology Laboratories—Approval) Principles 2002.

More importantly, the pathology accreditation standards supports the consistent assessment of pathology laboratories in Australia. This process protects the public from harm by ensuring that relevant systems and processes are in place to support consumers, clinicians and service providers.

Pathology laboratories must meet the requirements of all the standards. The National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) is the approved accrediting agency for pathology accreditation.

Services Australia regulates the accredited pathology providers eligible for claiming under Medicare. Contact Services Australia for more information on the application and claims process.

Feedback

The Commission values your opinion. You can provide comments and feedback about this section of the Commission’s website by emailing advicecentre@safetyandquality.gov.au or phone 1800 304 056.