The laboratory should participate in an EQA programme for each examination that it performs.
EQA schemes are not available everywhere and for every test. In that case: try to set up an interlaboratory comparison scheme, whereby the laboratories participating in that scheme all test the same sample. The laboratory sending the samples to other participating laboratories should alternate. When every participating laboratory has analyzed the sample the results should be compared. When deviating results are found action should be undertaken by doing a root-cause analysis to find out the cause of the deviation. Interlaboratory comparisons should be performed on a regular basis, similar to EQA.
Store files of the external quality assessment (result reports) in a file titled: “External Quality Assurrance”. When EQA (or calibration of equipment) gives rise to the need to make correction factors for certain examinations, or when already existing correction factors need to be updated, make sure that the old correction factors are removed from the laboratory.
The WHO LQMS training toolkit provides much information on EQA and other methods of proficiency testing. The SLMTA training provides a guideline that can be used to do a proficiency test correctly from pre- to post analytical phase. An additional EQA failure checklist is also provided in the SLMTA for cause analysis when an EQA did not yield correct results. A link to the book published by the APHL, CDC, IUATLD, KNCV, RIT and WHO titled “External Quality Assessment for AFB Microscopy” is also included for further reading.
Activities related to Phase 2 - Assessment
As the laboratory is supposed to start participating in EQA schemes there need to be a standard procedure for this activity (write what you do and do what you have written). Describe all EQA activities of the laboratory in an SOP so that all EQA panels are tested in the same manner.
Make sure that this SOP is read by all relevant personnel members.