Inaccurate reporting of the absence of an endocervical (EC) component on Pap smears often results in slide rescreens, amended reports, clinician dissatisfaction, and sometimes unnecessary repeat smears. Therefore, the accuracy of reporting EC component adequacy was selected as a quality indicator for the laboratory continuous quality improvement program (CQI). The process consisted of problem identification, analysis of the situation, collection of data, implementation of solutions, and evaluation of results. The objective of the study was to determine if the accuracy of reporting EC component adequacy on Pap smears improved after application of such a program. During the first phase, 150 Pap smears originally reported with the absence of an adequate EC component and 150 smears reported with the presence of an adequate EC component were rescreened to measure the baseline accuracy of EC component adequacy reporting. The improvement process was then implemented. A cause-and-effect diagram was developed and root cause was determined. A presentation was then made to the cytology staff. Criteria for EC component adequacy were reviewed, examples were shown, and standardized marking of EC component was implemented. Following improvement actions, a second audit of 150 Pap smears reported with the absence of an adequate EC component as well as 150 smears reported with the presence of an adequate EC component was undertaken to measure change in performance in assessing EC component adequacy. For the baseline rescreening, before initiation of the CQI program, 98% accuracy was achieved with smears that were reported as adequate for EC component present. However, the accuracy with smears reported as absence of an adequate EC component was only 71%, i.e., an adequate EC component was identified in almost 1/3 of these cases on rescreen. After the implementation of improvement actions, the accuracy with smears reported with the presence of EC component remained high (98%) and the accuracy of reporting the absence of EC component was 90%. The difference of the latter before and after the implementation was statistically significant (P = 0.015, z-test). The accuracy of reporting EC component adequacy increased following the CQI process. Using reporting EC component adequacy as an example, we demonstrate that by treating clinical problems as quality control issues and applying basic quality improvement tools, a positive outcome can be effected. © 2002 Wiley-Liss. Inc.