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Inside the Lab Laboratory management, Point of care testing, Quality assurance and quality control

Caring, Concern, and Consistency

At a Glance

  • Both internal quality control (IQC) and external quality assessment (EQA) are key to ensuring that laboratory-based and point-of-care tests yield reliable results
  • The need for consistency is especially true in fields such as blood coagulation, which feature a wide variety of tests and sample types
  • IQC and EQA should be seen as two sides of the same coin, and both should be considered indispensable to  proper testing processes and accreditation
  • The QA process may once have been seen as an “evaluation evil,” but is now an important part of delivering the best possible patient care

Quality control is a recurring – and vital – theme throughout pathology and laboratory medicine. It is particularly evident in the field of blood coagulation, a precision science that requires careful testing of samples, and equally careful testing of the tests themselves. And that’s where quality assurance (QA) processes come in – both internal to the user or facility in question, and external to the test itself. As point-of-care testing (POCT) evolves and is increasingly adopted into healthcare practice, it becomes increasingly important for pathologists to understand the QA methods that go into ensuring that both laboratory-based and point-of-care tests are accurate, precise, and consistent.

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About the Author

Tim Woods

Tim Woods is Chairman of the UK NEQAS POCT Working Group and Deputy Director of UK NEQAS for Blood Coagulation, UK.

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