ISO 22870- Are you meeting expectations?
Quality control has recently become crucial in the Point-of-Care (POC) field due to the introduction of ISO 22870 regulations and increased focus in patient safety. Quality control is critical in reducing turnaround time and saving money.
There is now an international standard specifically for POC testing, ISO 22870. This standard is intended to be used in conjunction with the standard for medical laboratories, ISO 15189. This means that aspects relating to Point-of-Care such as training, competence and documentation should be carefully planned, implemented and governed by a quality management system and there is a requirement for QC and EQA to be performed, where available.
POCT is typically carried out by non-laboratory staff, therefore when selecting the appropriate IQC material for POCT there are a number of key characteristics you must consider;
- Format of the material – QC material employed should be liquid stable, requiring no preparation, reducing the likelihood of human error and increasing convenience.
- Value assignment – all values must be accurately assigned. Look out for suppliers who use a large number of independent labs to determine the target value.
- Third party controls – manufactured independently from any specific instrument or method third party controls are designed to deliver unbiased performance assessment.
- Storage – for convenience controls should be liquid stable, as these can be easily stored in a fridge at 2oC – 8oC and won’t need to be shipped on dry ice.
- Stability – a control with a good open vial stability will mean that it can be used for longer with less waste produced, meaning it is more convenient for the medical professional to use.
- Transportation– the liquid stable controls can be conveniently stored at 2oC – 8oC reducing the need to ship on dry ice
- Minimal training– easy to use with little training required, therefore suitable for use by non-laboratory personnel
In addition to IQC, External Quality Assessment (EQA) must also be employed to ensure a comprehensive review of test system performance. It is best to select a programme that offers frequent reporting with a large database of users. This will enable rapid error identification and ultimately accurate and reliable patient testing.
Our Acusera liquid ready-to-use controls include:
- Blood Gas Control– A liquid stable control provided in easy to open ampoules for added convenience and ease-of-use. Assayed, method specific target values are provided for the most common blood gas instruments.
- Liquid Cardiac Control– This is a highly convenient liquid stable cardiac control offering excellent consistency. Assayed, instrument specific target values are provided for 8 cardiac markers, enabling flexibility and consolidation.
- Liquid Urinalysis Control– Liquid control that is compatible for use with both manual and automated methods of dipstick analysis. Available in convenient 12ml vials or 25ml dropper bottles with assayed ranges provided for 13 parameters covering the chemical examination of urine specimens.
- Liquid HbA1c Control– This is another highly convenient liquid ready-to-use control. With an open vial stability of 30 days, keeping waste and costs to a minimum.
Complementary EQA programmes are also available to meet the needs of ISO 22870.
IQCP stands for Individualized Quality Control Plan, and it is an all-inclusive approach to creating a customized quality control plan for a laboratory.
IQCP focuses on assuring quality in the lab using more in-depth means than simply carrying out a certain number of QC tests at a specific frequency. Many different aspects of laboratory operations will be evaluated, such as the test system, reagents, environment, testing personnel etc.
As of January 2016, many labs in and outside the USA have implemented their IQCP’s, but what impact has this had on day-to-day operations?
In order to gauge the overall effectiveness and user-experience of implementing IQCP, Westgard QC1 conducted a survey for all IQCP participants both in the USA and globally.
Opinions were mixed regarding the effectiveness of IQCP:
- Some users found that IQCP decreased the number of QC materials required
- There is a greater emphasis on the pre and post-analytic phases of testing, thus improving process error identification
- Over half of global survey participants revealed that their IQCP identified unacceptable risk(s) in their test system, thereby creating a more robust process
- Of the labs whose IQCP’s were inspected in the USA, 96.3% were deemed adequate by the relevant regulatory bodyies
- Identification of errors can lead to additional personnel training, thereby increasing the knowledge and expertise of laboratory staff
- Due to the length of time taken to create a single IQCP, coupled with the additional expense, several survey participants found that the benefits of IQCP did not justify using so many resources in its implementation
- Many labs raised concerns regarding the availability of guidance in developing an IQCP. Participants complained that useful guidelines were not provided quickly enough, and labs had to rush their IQCP implementation.
- Several survey participants felt as though there was widespread confusion over IQCP. Participants highlighted that the volume of questions from laboratory professionals proves that IQCP was not introduced by regulatory bodies in an organized or effective manner
- Some labs surveyed voiced the opinion that IQCP evaluation needs to be more standardized, and that inspections can either be too lenient or too stringent.
As with any new system, feedback is important for further refinement. IQCP appears to be a step in the right direction for the advancement of laboratory QC. According to Westgard’s survey1, only around 30% of US respondents were satisfied, showing that labs still feel improvements need to be made. Inspectoral standardization, or more concise, straightforward guidelines on IQCP implementation could be potential improvements for regulatory bodies to consider.
We would love to know your thoughts on the subject. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westgard QC. (2016).2016 IQCP Users Survey. Available: https://www.westgard.com/iqcp-user-survey-comments.htm. Last accessed 25-Oct-16.
Don’t Get Tricked This Halloween – Treat Your Lab to Randox True Third Party Controls Today!
Halloween – a celebration observed by many countries around the world on a yearly basis. Falling on October 31st this holiday is a chance for people to dress up, carve pumpkins, bob for apples, attend costume parties, trick-or-treat and tell scary stories.
It just so happens that we have a scary story for you – and what makes this story even scarier is that it’s a true story!
Our story starts off in a medical laboratory. This laboratory was running QC on their machine as they would do every day. Getting accurate results with no faults or problems arising from their machine, this laboratory was happy with how things were going – until one day when it all went wrong!
Having run their EQA/PT samples, the laboratory found themselves reviewing their report with shock –they noticed a large negative bias. To their horror the perceived ‘accuracy’ they had once achieved was now no longer the case. Right away the laboratory professional’s thoughts turned to the fact that approx. 70% of all clinical decisions are based on laboratory test results, meaning it is essential that the results provided are accurate and reliable in order to prevent potential misdiagnosis or inappropriate treatment. Had they sent incorrect patient results to the clinicians? Had a patient been misdiagnosed? Many thoughts fluttered around in their heads.
The laboratory repeated their QC and found that the results obtained were almost identical to the previous run. The laboratory knew there must be a problem with their QC or their instrument, so they began the troubleshooting process. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. “What was going on?” was the question on the lips of the laboratory professionals.
One of the laboratory professionals then stumbled across a case study that took place in the University of Verona and Academic Hospital of Parma, Italy. The study was related to a field recall of Intact PTH, the reagent was recalled after falsely elevated patient results were discovered. The alarming thing was that the same elevated performance was not identified by the instrument manufacturer’s control. The study reported that due to this issue there was potential for 40,000 inaccurate patient results from just 18 labs in the Lombardy region of Italy. The study also concluded that the issue could have been prevented if a third-party control, independent from calibrator materials had been used.
This PTH case study got the laboratory thinking that maybe they should source a true third party manufacturer… Having sampled a third party QC, the lab found their results now mirrored that of their EQA and patient samples and as such proceeded to make the switch from first party to third party.
The moral of this story is that first party controls can sometimes “trick” the lab into thinking their performance is acceptable. Quite often target values provided with first party quality controls are in the middle of the analytical range thus masking the issues at the low and high ends of the assay range. Laboratory professionals should “treat” their labs to the best QC material. ISO 15189 highlights that the “use of independent third party control materials should be considered, either instead of, or in addition to, any control materials supplied by the reagent or instrument manufacturer”. So this Halloween don’t randomly choose your QC supplier, treat your laboratory to the best, Randox QC.
All Randox controls are manufactured independently of any instrument or reagent, and designed for use with multiple instruments and methods ensuring, unbiased performance assessment.
Following recommendations from recognized institutions such as ISO and CLIA, more laboratories are using third party controls than ever before. However, great care should be taken when choosing which third party control to use. A number of factors should be considered, and primarily among these is whether the control challenges the complete Clinical Range and the Medical Decision Levels. ISO 15189:2012 states that ‘The laboratory should choose concentrations of control materials wherever possible, especially at or near clinical decision values, which ensure the validity of decisions made’.
Measuring the Complete Clinical Range
It is important to assess the full clinical range of an assay i.e. the range between the lowest and highest results which can be reliably reported. In order to make sure a laboratory instrument is working across the full clinical range, a QC which covers low, normal and elevated concentrations must be used.
Question: “If the full clinical range isn’t covered by QC, how will we know whether patient results which fall outside the range of quality controls are accurately reported?”
What are Medical Decision Levels?
Medical Decision Levels (MDL) are the analyte values at which medical professionals can determine whether a patient may be suffering from a certain condition. The MDL is determined by a consensus of medical professionals and clinical research. Patients’ test results are compared to the MDL and appropriate diagnoses or medical interventions can be made.
For example, the MDL of Glucose can indicate a certain diabetic status:
|Analyte||Medical Decision Level||Diagnostic Status|
|Glucose (fasting)||<100 mg/dL||Non-Diabetic|
Many QC manufacturers ‘cut corners’ in an attempt to keep costs down, which often results in the sale of controls which do not cover the complete clinical range or vital medical decision levels. Below is an example of the Glucose concentrations present in a competitor control:
Competitor Chemistry Control Level 1 – 68 mg/dL
Competitor Chemistry Control Level 2 – 134 mg/dL
Competitor Chemistry Control Level 3 – 386 mg/dL
In the examples above, the competitor’s level 1 control covers the non-diabetic MDL, but the level 2 control is not within the ‘Pre-Diabetic’ decision range. The level 3 control is also much higher than can be expected for an elevated diabetic patient result (200 mg/dL or more).
Due to the superior manufacturing process used by Randox, QC target values are consistently within the MDL of tests. For example, the Glucose concentrations present in our Liquid Assayed Chemistry Premium Plus control are:
Level 1 – 57 mg/dL
Level 2 – 114 mg/dL
Level 3 – 236 mg/dL
The MDL for Glucose is covered by the Randox control, meaning laboratory professionals can be confident that patient results will be accurately interpreted.
Immunoassay Medical Decision Levels
Controls which cover the MDL can reduce the number of Quality Controls required by laboratories. For example, Randox Acusera Lyophilised Immunoassay Controls contain particularly low levels of TSH, Ferritin and Vitamin B12 in the Level 1 control, eliminating the need for an additional control at extra expense:
|Analyte||Medical Decision Level||Randox Level 1 IA Control||Competitor Level 1 IA Control|
|TSH||0.1 or 0.27 uU/mL||0.15uU/mL||0.37 uU/mL|
|Vitamin B12||190 pmol/L||174 pmol/L||327 pmol/L|
|Ferritin||12 ng/mL||11.1 ng/mL||49.6 ng/mL|
In this example the competitor offers an anaemia control with lower levels of TSH, Vitamin B12 and Ferritin at an additional cost. With Randox Acusera QC, only one control is required for anemia monitoring and detection.
Results of our Liquid vs Lyophilised Poll
Having conducted a recent poll on our Social Media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter) asking our customers what format they preferred their quality control material in – liquid or lyophilised – we saw a large preference for liquid controls.
What does this poll result really tell us?
That most people prefer Liquid controls? Yes.
Lyophilised controls are not as popular amongst our social following? Yes.
However, it also tells us that even though most people chose a liquid format there was still almost a quarter of people who prefer to use lyophilised controls. Liquid and lyophilised controls both have their advantages and disadvantages, this blog is designed to help you decide which is the best fit for your lab.
Firstly, it is important to note that there are two distinct types of liquid control available on the market;Liquid ready-to-use and Liquid for ease-of-use, better known as Liquid Frozen. Both types of liquid controls reduce the potential for reconstitution errors and prevent contamination from poor quality water.
Liquid frozen controls must be thawed in a refrigerator before use, making them a little less convenient than the liquid ready-to-use alternative. They require no reconstitution so associated errors are removed. Due to the frozen nature of these controls, they are often shipped on dry ice to prevent thawing in transit, as such transportation costs can be significant.
Liquid ready-to-use controls are arguably the most favoured of the three formats and it is easy to understand why. The controls are simple to use, they require no preparation and there is no need to thaw before use.– With zero preparation required, these controls can be removed from the packaging and used right away! What’s more, they can be conveniently stored at 2-8oC minimising expensive shipping costs.
Another major benefit of using a liquid ready-to-use control is the fact that they are ideal for POCT (Point of Care Testing). The ability to use these controls on the spot is extremely beneficial to POC providers.
Lastly, the choice of 22% of respondents – lyophilised. This is freeze dried material which requires the laboratory professional to reconstitute the sample using sterilised water and mixing before use. Although this format is not as easy to use as either liquid control it does come with benefits. The enhanced stability of this control sees a shelf life of almost double the two years that is normal with a liquid control, however, the potential for reconstitution errors and the fact it is not as simple to use lead to the majority of people opting for a more convenient liquid control.
Randox Quality Control Range
With Randox QC there are a vast array of controls available in liquid ready-to-use and liquid frozen formats. Areas we have liquid frozen formats available in, include; Clinical Chemistry and Immunoassay.
Liquid ready-to-use controls can be found in the following; Liquid Cardiac, Blood Gas, Liquid Urine, Urinalysis, Specific Protein, Ammonia Ethanol, Haematology, Liquid HbA1c and Liquid Tumour Markers.
To register an interest in any of our controls simply contact us at acusera@Randox.com and let us know how we can help and support you or alternatively click here – where you will be redirected to our contact page.
Point-of-Care Testing (POCT)
The Point-of-Care testing market, better known as POCT, is growing rapidly as the demand for faster patient testing increases. This point is fully backed up through the results of the recent BIVDA (British IN-Vitro Diagnostics Association) survey of 2016. This survey focuses primarily on Point-of-Care Testing and there were a few questions asked that sparked an interest amongst us. The questions can be seen below;
“What are the challenges you face regarding POCT?”
“What do you see in the future for POCT?” (BIVDA, 2016)
Although many answers were put forward there was one (answer) that appeared for both questions. Accreditation. We found this intriguing yet far from surprising. POCT and accreditation go hand-in-hand, with laboratories striving to achieve ISO accreditation with the ultimate aim of allowing patients to have peace of mind that they are being tested properly and effectively.
The ISO standard that relates to POCT is ISO 22870:2006 Point of Care Testing- Requirements for quality and competence. This standard gives specific requirements applicable to POCT testing and apply when POCT is carried out in a hospital, clinic or a healthcare organisation providing ambulatory care. However, it is important to note and remember that ISO 22870 is not to be seen as a separate, standalone document, in fact, it is to be used in conjunction with ISO 15189:2012 (medical laboratories – particular requirements for quality & competence).
With accreditation in POCT becoming a major factor to laboratories, it is no surprise to see accreditation as one of the top answers to the two questions asked in the survey.
For laboratories looking to participate in point-of-care testing there are other factors of ISO 22870 that they must be aware of, one of the major factors is as follows;
“ISO 22870:2006 advises that where available, Internal Quality Control and participation in an External Quality Assessment (EQA) scheme is required in the point-of-care setting.”
How can Randox help?
Fortunately for laboratories, Randox are able to help out here. With a vast range of true third party controls and 32 comprehensive RIQAS (EQA) programmes, Randox can aid laboratories as they aim for ISO accreditation.
We have multiple products particularly suited to the POCT market including, Liquid Cardiac, Blood Gas and Urinalysis. These products are available both as internal quality controls and as EQA programmes.
Our Acusera range of true third party controls are conveniently supplied liquid ready-to-use, therefore requiring no preparation. This is a particular advantage in the POC environment were test results are required quickly and also were testing is not always performed by laboratory personnel. Supplied with assayed target values and manufactured from 100% human material, ensuring they act in the same manner as a patient sample, our Acusera controls are ideal for use at the point of care and will therefore aid a laboratory in gaining ISO accreditation.
Similarly, participation in our RIQAS EQA programme will also assist laboratories to meet regulatory requirements and achieve ISO accreditation. With over 40,000 laboratory participants in 123 countries, RIQAS is the largest international EQA scheme worldwide! Our Liquid Cardiac, Blood Gas and Urinalysis programmes are all supplied liquid ready-to-use, complementing their Acusera counterparts perfectly!
A laboratory running a competitors 3rd party Microalbumin QC noticed shifts in their QC values whenever they changed reagent batch.
They tested two levels of quality control over three different batches of reagent the results can be seen in the table below.
|Competitor Control – Microalbumin|
As can be seen from the findings above, Microalbumin results shifted significantly each time they changed reagent batch. This was the case for both the level one and level two control however when the lab tested the same set of patient samples across the three reagent batches results were consistent and did not show the same shifts.
The laboratory decided to contact Randox and ask about our Microalbumin controls. They were concerned about the shifts seen with their current supplier and highlighted the fact they were no longer confident in the results they were releasing. This led to them trialling the Randox liquid ready-to-use Microalbumin control with the same three reagent batches they tested previously.
Having tested two levels of the Randox quality control over the same three reagent batches the laboratory reported to us that their results were back on track and they were delighted with the outcome! The results of the Randox control can be seen in the table below.
|Randox Control – Microalbumin|
The difference seen with the Randox control across the three reagent batches was much smaller than that of their previous control and was in line with the changes seen with their patient samples.
This case study highlights the commutability of the Randox QC range. By using a control with a matrix that reacts to the test system in the same manner as the patient sample the laboratory was confident in the patient test results produced and were able to meet ISO 15189:2012 requirements.
Today, June 27th, sees the beginning of one of the four tennis majors – Wimbledon. Basking in the summer sun while lying on ‘Henman Hill’, this yearly tournament attracts spectators from all over the globe who want to watch the world’s best tennis players ply their skills on the revered centre court over the course of a two week period. But what exactly is the most important skill a tennis player can utilise? Well, many players have different strengths but the one skill that all of them must possess is the ability to serve – and accurately.
The ability to serve is vitally important as it allows the point to begin, serving accurately however allows the player to set the pace and ensure they are on the front foot. By making sure they serve more accurately, the player can be confident in their ability to win the point and the match.
Just like tennis, laboratories will aim to be accurate when ‘serving’ up their test results. Achieving accurate test results is what every lab strives for. With patient results on the line it is important for labs to use QC material that will assist them in obtaining the correct results, therefore keeping them clear of causing a ‘racquet’.
Randox Acusera is world renowned for delivering unbiased performance assessment. Our range of true third party controls are manufactured to the highest standard ensuring commutable samples that react to the test system in the same manner as a patient sample, ultimately allowing labs to be confident in the results they produce. Much like the serve in tennis that needs to fall within a target area, QC results should be as close as possible to the target and ideally should fall within +/- 2 SD from the mean. By falling within these limits a lab can be sure of accurate results and an acceptable performance.
Employ Acusera quality controls in your laboratory today and experience unrivaled confidence in your test results.
Get your slice of our control range here by contacting us at email@example.com. We guarantee you will love us!
Randox has launched the first in a series of White Papers, focusing on the importance of quality control in point-of-care testing (POCT). The White Paper is free to download and will help laboratories define an appropriate QC procedure for all POCT devices.
Patient testing at the point-of-care has increased dramatically in recent years, as technology makes it more convenient to test patient samples at the bedside producing rapid results and allowing immediate action. However, the benefits of this are only true if the results are both accurate and reliable, making quality control vitally important in the POC setting, just as it is in the laboratory.
A recent survey* identified that POCT is the largest source of error when compared to other sources of laboratory testing errors. Furthermore, the most common phase for errors in POCT is in the analytical stage, whereas in laboratory-based testing this is the least common source for errors. This highlights how vital it is to have a robust QC procedure in place for POCT as the potential risk of harm to a patient appears to be far greater for POC tests compared to those performed in a laboratory.
The White Paper from Randox covers the fundamentals of developing a POCT QC strategy in line with ISO15189 requirements, looking at who is responsible for QC, what QC is appropriate for different types of POC devices and tips for choosing IQC material and an EQA scheme.
The Paper can be downloaded from the Randox website here.
Randox second White Paper, which studies the importance of using 100% human serum controls to avoid lot-to-lot variations in immunoassay testing, will be available in December.
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