The External Quality Assessment division improves the quality of laboratory services through the assessment of laboratory test performance and education. EQA evaluates analytical processes using challenge surveys with fresh and simulated patient samples, while patterns-of-practice surveys and questionnaires address pre- and post-analytical issues. Laboratory results are peer reviewed and examined for reliability.
EQA helps improve the accuracy and reliability of test results physicians use to make diagnosis and prognosis. EQA also compares different methods and instruments for the same test, provides guidance on best practices and assesses standards of participant performance. Unsatisfactory performance in EQA by a single lab may indicate the need for assistance and retraining. Unsatisfactory performance by several labs using the same method may indicate problems with the method or kit. EQA helps manufacturers as well as labs.
Education is also an important component of the EQA program. Along with detailed survey reports, QMP–LS produces educational committee comments, broadsheets and best practice guidelines—all crafted to facilitate performance improvement.