A sample distribution programme for erythropoietin

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A survey was sent to laboratories participating in the United Kingdom External Quality Assessment Service (UKNEQAS) Haematinics Scheme about the measurement of serum erythropoietin (EPO). Six laboratories, from a total of 120 that returned the survey, were measuring serum EPO concentrations by commercially available immunoassays on site in the United Kingdom. The workload of the laboratories varied from up to 100 specimens per month to more than 100 specimens analysed per week. All laboratories included control material in the assays and none of the laboratories was participating in an external quality assessment scheme for serum EPO. Four laboratories agreed to take part in the first sample distribution programme, with five and six laboratories participating in distributions 2 and 3 respectively. The results from eight kits were compared from the three distributions over a 2-year period. The serum EPO concentrations for the methods showed some variation across the range of 2.9–200 U/l when the serum EPO concentrations for each method were compared with the whole method mean. The results from this scheme have identified a role for an external quality assessment scheme for serum EPO measurements.

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