Improvements in the molecular detection of pathogens through participation in international external quality assessment schemes

Abstract number: 1733_911

MacKay W., Scott C., Steel C., Niesters H.G.M., Wallace P., van Loon A.M.

Objectives: Quality Control for Molecular Diagnostics (QCMD) is an independent not-for-profit organisation whose primary aim is to establish and develop External Quality Assessment (EQA) Programmes for the evaluation of nucleic acid amplification techniques (NATs) in the diagnostic laboratory. QCMD collects and analyses a wealth of information on the performance of NATs and is uniquely placed to comment on trends in their performance worldwide.

Methods: Data for all of the EQA programmes offered by QCMD (including those for MRSA, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis and Legionella pneumophila) were analysed to determine trends in the number of participants contributing to the EQA programmes, changes in the types of NATs being used and performance over time.

Results: The number of EQA programmes offered increased from eight in 2001 to 32 in 2006. Panels were distributed to over 2,500 participants in more than 50 countries worldwide in 2006. Commercial assays, when available from major diagnostic companies, were the favoured method of choice. However a large number of laboratories developed and used in-house methods. A move towards the use of real time assays was also evident whilst the use of non-PCR methods was uncommon.

Conclusion: Considerable differences in performance were noted between laboratories, particularly when in-house methods were used. False-positive results are still a problem. Nevertheless, the general trend was towards an improvement in performance.

QCMD is now the primary provider of EQA programmes for the evaluation of NATs in molecular diagnostics throughout Europe and the rest of the World. We continue to maintain and develop a comprehensive portfolio of programmes covering a wide range of pathogens.

Session Details

Date: 31/03/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: ICC, Munich, Germany
Presentation type:
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