Expressing analytical performance from multi-sample evaluation in laboratory EQA

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Background:To provide its participants with an external quality assessment system (EQAS) that can be used to check trueness, the Dutch EQAS organizer, Organization for Quality Assessment of Laboratory Diagnostics (SKML), has innovated its general chemistry scheme over the last decade by introducing fresh frozen commutable samples whose values were assigned by Joint Committee for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (JCTLM)-listed reference laboratories using reference methods where possible. Here we present some important innovations in our feedback reports that allow participants to judge whether their trueness and imprecision meet predefined analytical performance specifications.Methods:Sigma metrics are used to calculate performance indicators named ‘sigma values’. Tolerance intervals are based on both Total Error allowable (TEa) according to biological variation data and state of the art (SA) in line with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM) Milan consensus.Results:The existing SKML feedback reports that express trueness as the agreement between the regression line through the results of the last 12 months and the values obtained from reference laboratories and calculate imprecision from the residuals of the regression line are now enriched with sigma values calculated from the degree to which the combination of trueness and imprecision are within tolerance limits. The information and its conclusion to a simple two-point scoring system are also graphically represented in addition to the existing difference plot.Conclusions:By adding sigma metrics-based performance evaluation in relation to both TEa and SA tolerance intervals to its EQAS schemes, SKML provides its participants with a powerful and actionable check on accuracy.

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