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Gram stain is a commonly performed bacterial stain in clinical microbiology laboratories. It is often the starting point guiding microbiology workup and initial clinical diagnosis and therapy. It is important for technologists who read Gram stains to provide an accurate interpretation based on reaction type and microscopic morphology in order to provide presumptive identifications and quantification of bacteria and fungi in clincical specimens.

Participation in this study helps laboratories meet:

  • CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program Microbiology Checklist statment MIC.11060, Culture Result Reporting: Personnel performing Gram stains for this purpose are subject to competency assesment
  • CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program Microbiology Checklist statment MIC.11350 Morphologic Observation Evaluation: The laboratory evaluates consistency of morphologic observation among personnel performing Gram, trichrome, and other organism stains at least annually
  • CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program Checklist statement GEN.55500, Competency Assessmentof Testing Personnel
  • Joint Commission standards HR.01.05.03, and 01.07.01 for training and education, competency, and evaluation of hospital personnel


This study will help assess the technologist's ability to evaluate Gram stains using online, whole slide images for technologists. These cases provide the basis for a standardized review and evaluation for each technologist. Participation in the this study will meet applicable CLIA, CAP Laboratory Accreditation, and Joint Commission personnel competency requirements

Data Collection

Information will be collected from each participant including their institution's minimum technologist qualification and experience requirements, their ongoing educational programs in Gram stain assessment, as well as relevant laboratory procedures and policies related to Gram stain assesment.

A series of online whole slide images of Gram stained smears using DigitalScope® technology will be provided to each participating institution to assess technologists' ability to detect various organism types based on the Gram stains. Performance will be evaluated and scored for each technologist and case.

Each program ordered provides input forms for use by up to 10 technologists. Laboratories that need forms for more than 10 individuals should order additional programs (available in multiples of 10).

Performance Indicators

  • Individual technologist score (%) for each Gram stain case, and overall based on the standardized competency assessment method
  • Overall laboratory score based on the facility's individual technologist performance(s)

Shipping Schedule

B Mailing: March 15, 2021

Additional Information

This is a one-time study conducted in the second quarter.

Q-PROBES qualify for Self-Reported Training Opportunities to be used for fulfilling requirements for certification maintenance by agencies such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Please verify with your certifying agency to determine your education requirements.

For Comprehensive Collection of Tools, see Quality Management Tools.

Select Q-PROBES and Q-TRACKS studies to support your quality improvement initiatives.
Anatomic Pathology
Clinical Pathology
Turnaround Time
Patient Safety
Transfusion Medicine
Chemistry/ Hematology
Customer Satisfaction
Antimicrobial Susceptability Testing (QP211)
Technical Competency Assesment of Gram Stains (QP212)
Physician Satisfaction with Clinical Laboratory (QP213)
Turnaround Time for Image with Guided Breast Needle Biopsy Specimens (QP204)
Patient Identification Accuracy (QT1)
Blood Culture Contamination (QT2)
Laboratory Specimen Acceptability (QT3)
In-Date Blood Product Wastage (QT4)
Gynecologic Cytology Outcomes: Biopsy Correlation Performance (QT5)
Satisfaction with Outpatient Specimen Collection (QT7)
Stat Test Turnaround Time Outliers (QT8)
Critical Values Reporting (QT10)
Troponin Turnaround Times (QT15)
Corrected Results (QT16)
Outpatient Order Entry Errors (QT17)

*The CAP requires accredited laboratories to have a quality management plan that covers all areas of the laboratory and includes benchmarking key measures of laboratory performance (GEN.13806, GEN.20316, COM.04000). The Joint Commission requires accredited hospitals to regularly collect and analyze performance data (PI.01.01.01, PI.02.01.01). CLIA requires laboratories to monitor, assess, and correct problems identified in preanalytic, analytic, and postanalytic systems (§493.1249, §493.1289, §493.1299).