Selecting a Risk-Based SQC Procedure for a HbA1c Total QC Plan

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Background:Recent US practice guidelines and laboratory regulations for quality control (QC) emphasize the development of QC plans and the application of risk management principles. The US Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) now includes an option to comply with QC regulations by developing an individualized QC plan (IQCP) based on a risk assessment of the total testing process. The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) has provided new practice guidelines for application of risk management to QC plans and statistical QC (SQC).Methods:We describe an alternative approach for developing a total QC plan (TQCP) that includes a risk-based SQC procedure. CLIA compliance is maintained by analyzing at least 2 levels of controls per day. A Sigma-Metric SQC Run Size nomogram provides a graphical tool to simplify the selection of risk-based SQC procedures.Applications:Current HbA1c method performance, as demonstrated by published method validation studies, is estimated to be 4-Sigma quality at best. Optimal SQC strategies require more QC than the CLIA minimum requirement of 2 levels per day. More complex control algorithms, more control measurements, and a bracketed mode of operation are needed to assure the intended quality of results.Conclusions:A total QC plan with a risk-based SQC procedure provides a simpler alternative to an individualized QC plan. A Sigma-Metric SQC Run Size nomogram provides a practical tool for selecting appropriate control rules, numbers of control measurements, and run size (or frequency of SQC). Applications demonstrate the need for continued improvement of analytical performance of HbA1c laboratory methods.

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