The Importance of External Quality Assessment (EQA) in Laboratory Testing

Laboratory testing requires accuracy and reliability for patient care. External Quality Assessment (EQA) is an effective tool to ensure testing accuracy and reliability. EQA compares laboratory test results with peer groups or reference labs worldwide. This article discusses the importance of EQA, its benefits, and limitations.

Benefits of EQA

Participating in an EQA scheme provides laboratories with valuable data that can be used in several ways.

  • Enables laboratories to compare their performance with other labs and testing sites, highlighting areas for improvement and providing evidence of quality. 
  • Detect systematic errors early on and identify training needs, equipment faults, and reagent problems. 
  • EQA allows laboratories to compare performance with different analytical methods, ensuring consistency and accuracy across different testing sites.

Participation in EQA schemes is often a requirement for accreditation, which provides additional benefits such as increased confidence in results from customers.

Benefits of EQA in POCT

Point-of-care testing (POCT) has grown rapidly in popularity due to its convenience and ability to produce rapid results at the patient’s bedside, leading to immediate action and improved outcomes. However, the reliability of POCT results is essential for patient safety. EQA is strongly recommended for all POCT devices by ISO 22870, which provides specific requirements applicable to point-of-care testing and should be used in conjunction with ISO 15189. EQA in POCT ensures the accuracy and reliability of results, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

Limitations of EQA

Although EQA is an essential tool for maintaining an effective QC strategy, it has its limitations. EQA cannot provide a complete evaluation alone, and it is crucial to run third-party controls regularly to ensure the accuracy and reliability of testing procedures. Additionally, EQA results can be affected by variables not related to patient samples, such as preparation, clerical functions, matrix effects, and selection of method. While these errors can seem like a downside, they can be used to evaluate staff performance as well as assay performance.

Microbix Solutions

Microbix Solutions provides a range of quality control products that enable laboratories to monitor the performance of their diagnostic tests. Their products include EQA and PT materials, as well as quality control materials for various infectious disease tests. By using Microbix’s quality control products, laboratories ensure accurate and reliable diagnostic tests, leading to better patient outcomes.

EQA is crucial in evaluating lab testing accuracy and reliability, especially in POCT, and enables labs to compare performance worldwide. Though EQA has limitations, it’s essential for effective QC strategy. Quality control products from companies like Microbix ensure accurate and reliable diagnostic tests, leading to better patient outcomes.

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