Innovation in laboratory Proficiency Testing: Improving how we improve quality in the medical laboratory

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When patients and their physicians have a laboratory test performed, they make the assumption that the information they receive is accurate and meaningful.  Most of the time they are correct; but unfortunately sometime they are not.  Proficiency Testing is the process by which laboratories are given samples of known composition to test to determine if they can get the right answer.

Many proficiency testing programs only assess the actual testing of the sample (examination phase), but studies demonstrate that more errors occur either before the sample is tested (pre-examination) or during the creation and send-out of a report (post-examination).  Laboratories can also make errors in safety, or quality control that occur at the same time as the examination (pre-examination).  Effective Proficiency Testing must address all phases.  Clinical Microbiology Proficiency Testing (CMPT) program provides samples and materials to test all phases using a variety of techniques to help laboratories provide clinically relevant, accurate and meaningful information to support patient and physician confidence.


About Michael Noble

Chair, Clinical Microbiology Proficiency Testing (CMPT) and
Chair, Program Office for Laboratory Quality Management,
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia.

Dr Michael Noble is a physician trained in both clinical and laboratory care. Originally a medical microbiologist, Dr. Noble has much of his attention to laboratory quality assurance and improvement. Currently a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, he also holds a position with Department of Global Health, University of Washington. He has collaborated with the US Centers for Disease Control, and World Health Organization, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Canadian Standards Association, and has held workshops in eastern and southern Africa, the Caribbean, Thailand, China, and Saudi Arabia. Over his career he has had 80 published manuscripts, 9 books or chapters, and given over 400 presentations related to his fields of interest.