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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education, Quality assurance and quality control, Regulation and standards

A Quality Undertaking

At a Glance

  • External quality assessment (EQA) ensures that diagnostic tests are reliable, accurate and translatable between laboratories
  • Each laboratory’s selection of tests and procedures is different, and not all participate in similar EQA schemes, which makes quality assurance challenging
  • Organizations like the International Quality Network for Pathology can bring together companies, EQA providers, and end users for the education of all 
  • With education comes greater understanding and the ability to shape future product development to better meet pathologists’ needs

Independent organizations around the world perform external quality assessment (EQA), or proficiency testing, to ensure that diagnostic laboratories produce valid and accurate test results. The need is clear – when using immunohistochemistry (IHC)-based diagnostics, for instance, it is critical to know (and be able to prove) that the staining results are accurate so that pathologists, physicians and other healthcare professionals can reliably use the tests to guide patient treatment.

Ensuring accuracy and precision in the EQA process is easier said than done. Different laboratories use different tests and procedures, resulting in variation across the field, but EQA schemes need to demonstrate accurate testing regardless of procedural variations within a laboratory or group. How is this accomplished?

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About the Authors

Beth Sheppard

Beth Sheppard is Senior Director of Market Access at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. (Roche Tissue Diagnostics), Tucson, USA.


Colin Tristram

Colin Tristram is Co-Founder and Director of HistoCyte Laboratories Ltd., Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


John Garratt

John Garratt is Scheme Manager at Canadian Immunohistochemistry Quality Control (cIQc), Vancouver, Canada.


Espen Walker

Espen Walker is Medical Affairs Director at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. (Roche Tissue Diagnostics), Tucson, USA.


Jacqueline Hall

Jacqueline Hall is Executive Director of IQN Path, Luxembourg.

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