The College of American Pathologists (CAP) is a private, non-profit accrediting organization that has been granted "deeming" authority by CMS.
The goal of the CAP laboratory accreditation program is to "Improve patient safety by advancing the quality of pathology and laboratory services through education, standard setting, and ensuring laboratories meet or exceed regulatory requirements." Though CAP inspects only clinical laboratories, there are various types, such as reference laboratories, clinics, military installations, hospital laboratories, etc., that may be accredited through this organization.
Inspections are unannounced, and the program uses volunteer teams of practicing laboratory professionals as inspectors, or CAP inspection specialists. Inspection specialists are CAP employees who have extensive experience in laboratory medicine.
If a hospital is inspected by the Joint Commission and the laboratory chooses to seek CAP accreditation, the CAP inspection is recognized by the Joint Commission so that the laboratory will not be inspected again by the Joint Commission during the hospital inspection.
In the fall of 2008, CAP launched a laboratory accreditation program based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15189:2007. This program utilizes criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence and account for quality management systems. It does not replace the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program but is an addition to it. Participation is strictly voluntary, and there is no tie to CMS for Medicare reimbursement.