What Is Proficiency Testing?
Proficiency testing is used by clinical/medical laboratories to verify the accuracy and reliability of their tests. Proficiency testing is a program in which multiple samples are periodically distributed to members of a group of laboratories for analysis and/or identification. The expected results/target results are only known by the proficiency testing service provider and none of the participating laboratories have access to the expected results.
After the laboratory submits the results of the testing to the proficiency testing service, the laboratory's result is compared with other laboratories' results that use the same or similar testing equipment and reagents. The proficiency testing service scores the laboratory’s performance by comparing their results with the targeted value. Laboratory personnel may then evaluate the accuracy of their testing and take corrective action if their results are not acceptable.
Benefits of Participating in PT
There are several benefits of participating in Proficiency testing and these are as follows;
To the Laboratory
- It is a valuable tool for education: Participating laboratories have got a learning opportunity whenever they make corrective actions as well as when they receive challenging PT samples not commonly found in their laboratories.
- Self assessment against other laboratories: The PT reports clearly indicated how the participating laboratories would have performed against other participating laboratories.
- System confidence: Through receiving correct results, participating laboratories can build internal confidence in their testing process.
- Early warning system for problems: Should there be problems with equipment, internal quality Controls as well as Reagent Kits; PT can help the participating laboratory to identify the problem.
- Indicator of where to direct improvement efforts: Participating laboratories may realize that they have a challenge in one or more of the schemes they participate in. This gives them knowledge of were to direct their effort in trying to improve the testing process.
- Requirement for Accreditation: ISO 15189: 5.6.3 requires that laboratories participate in Inter-Lab Comparison/PT schemes. Where no formal PT is available, labs should participate in inter-laboratory activities.
To the Nation
- Public confidence in laboratory results: Information coming from the PT providers can give the public confidence in the results generated by participating laboratories.
- Reliable data for epidemiological purposes:
To the Patient
The patient is ensured to receive accurate, reliable and useful test results from the participating laboratories.