From its inception in 1990, RIQAS (Randox International Quality Assessment Scheme) has developed into one of the world’s largest global External Quality Assessment (EQA / Proficiency Testing (PT) schemes serving over 45,000 participants in more than 133 countries. Our main aim is to help clinical laboratories meet their quality requirements and most importantly, provide the best possible patient care.
Currently, a total of 33 comprehensive EQA programmes are available covering a wide range of clinical diagnostic testing. Our extensive programme menu is world renowned for reducing the number of individual EQA programmes required by even the most demanding laboratories. Effective consolidation in this way will not only deliver real cost savings but free up storage space and ultimately reduce the time spent preparing multiple samples at each EQA survey. Several flexible participation options are available allowing laboratories to customise the scheme to suit their unique requirements.
In 2012, RIQAS celebrated gaining accreditation to ISO/IEC 17043:2010. This standard outlines general requirements for proficiency testing and demonstrates our commitment to quality whilst providing both participants and accrediting bodies with confidence in the schemes operation.
Comprising over 360 parameters in 33 comprehensive External Quality Control programmes, RIQAS can streamline EQA by significantly reducing the number of individual programmes required. Consolidation in this way is guaranteed to save even the most demanding laboratories both precious time and money. With fewer samples to prepare, fewer reports to interpret and fewer kits to store the effect on productivity and efficiency is unrivalled.
A high level of participation means peer group numbers are maximised whilst ensuring availability of data for a wide range of instruments and methods.
RIQAS reports are presented in a simple one page per parameter format, uniquely designed to facilitate at-a-glance performance assessment. Although user-friendly our standard quantitative report encompasses a wealth of information in the form of; Levey-Jennings charts, Histograms, % Deviation charts, % Deviation by concentration charts and our unique target scoring chart all providing a visual representation of laboratory performance over the last 20 samples. EQA reports are returned within 24-72 hours of the submission deadline, this rapid turnaround allows laboratories to identify any trends, bias or precision problems and take any necessary corrective actions immediately with minimal disruption to the lab.
Also available to participants is end-of-cycle, interlaboratory and multi-instrument reports. End-of-cycle reports are provided at the end of each cycle and summarise all statistics for the cycle in an easy to read format, comparative performance to the previous cycle is also possible with RIQAS end-of-cycle reports. Interlaboratory reports are ideal for lab groups or lab chains. These allow comparative performance across multiple connected labs. Lastly, multi-instrument reports allow labs to compare the performance of up to 5 instruments within their lab, this is extremely important as it is an ISO 15189: 2012 requirement; “Laboratories with two or more analysers for examinations, should have a defined mechanism for comparison of results across analysers”.
Frequent reporting allows early identification of test system errors and implementation of any necessary corrective actions with minimum disruption to the lab. Frequent EQA challenges will also reduce the need for expensive repeat tests while ultimately improving the quality of laboratory test results. RIQAS delivers a choice of bi-weekly, monthly and quarterly options* (programme specific) all designed to assist in the early identification of laboratory errors.
RIQAS Standard Quantitative Reports are available within 72 hours of the submission deadline. Frequent analysis coupled with our rapid turnaround will allow labs to pinpoint when an error occurred and implement any corrective actions necessary.
With 33 flexible EQA programmes available, RIQAS has something to suit every lab’s needs. Reduced parameter options are available for selected programmes allowing laboratories to select only the tests they run; in addition reduced reporting options are also available for many programmes enabling laboratories to select their desired frequency. Unrivalled flexibility in this way ensures suitability for laboratories of all sizes and budgets.
The ability to register up to 5 instruments per programme at no extra cost will ultimately save money facilitating comparative performance assessment.
ISO 15189:2012 states that “the laboratory shall participate in inter-laboratory comparisons such as those organised by external quality assessment schemes.” Furthermore, it also argues that “EQA should, as far as possible, cover the entire range of tests, and the entire examination process, from sample reception, preparation and analysis to interpretation and reporting.”
Being part of a reputable External Quality Assessment scheme like RIQAS is highly encouraged by international and national regulatory bodies.
RIQAS systems and procedures are accredited to ISO 17043:2010 ‘Conformity Assessment – General Requirements for Proficiency Testing’ ensuring a high quality programme that is fit for purpose and will assist laboratories in meeting and maintaining ISO 15189:2012 standards.
In addition to ISO 17043:2010, RIQAS is recognised by the UK National Quality Assurance Advisory Panel (NQAAP) for Clinical Pathology and the Joint Working Group on Quality Assurance (JWG QA).
All RIQAS participants will receive a certificate of participation at the end of each cycle providing they submit results for at least 50% of samples and will have unique access to an independent advisory panel of scientific and clinical experts.
All RIQAS samples are manufactured to the highest quality standard. The availability of samples spanning clinically relevant levels allows identification of concentration related biases and ultimately helps to ensure accurate instrument performance across the entire measuring range. Designed to be commutable, RIQAS samples are manufactured from human source material and are free from interfering preservatives increasing confidence that EQA performance mirrors that of patient samples. Reference method values are also provided in the General Clinical Chemistry programme for selected parameters and lots.
RIQAS.Net is a cloud based data entry system allowing participants to return results and view reports online. Participants can submit results directly into the RIQAS database eliminating the need to fax or email EQA results. Reports are then emailed directly to participants in pdf format when available. Current and previous reports are also available to download directly from the internet.
What is External Quality Assessment
External Quality Assessment (EQA) sometimes referred to as Proficiency Testing (PT) is an essential aspect of any laboratory operation providing a means of assessing analytical performance compared to other laboratories using the same method and instrument.
EQA is designed to retrospectively monitor laboratory performance using ‘blind’ samples analysed as if they were patient samples. EQA results are submitted to the scheme organiser on a regular basis for statistical analysis; each individual laboratory will then receive a report comparing their performance to others participating in the same programme.
“A program in which multiple samples are periodically sent to members of a group of laboratories for analysis and/or identification; whereby each laboratory’s results are compared with those of other laboratories in the group and/or with an assigned value, and reported to the participating laboratories and others.”
– CLSI GP27-A2 27:8
“A system of objectively checking laboratory results by means of an external agency…”
– WHO External Assessment of Health Laboratories (1981)
Why Participate in an External Quality Assessment (EQA) Scheme?
External Quality Assessment is an essential aspect of any laboratory operation providing labs with a means of assessing their analytical performance compared to other laboratories utilising the same methods and instruments. The main functions include:
- Maintain and improve analytical quality
- Improve inter-laboratory agreement and raise standards
- Detect equipment faults, identify reagent problems and review staff training
- Initiate and evaluate corrective actions
- Compare performance to different analytical methods
Ongoing monitoring of EQA performance using an effective EQA scheme like RIQAS will help to reduce laboratory errors, produce accurate patient test results and most importantly improve patient care.
Both national regulatory bodies and international standards encourage participation in a reputable EQA provider like RIQAS.“The laboratory shall participate in inter-laboratory comparisons such as those organised by external quality assessment schemes. Laboratory management shall monitor the results of external quality assessment and participate in the implementation of corrective actions when control criteria are not fulfilled. Inter-laboratory comparison programmes shall be in substantial agreement with ISO/IEC Guide 43-1.”– ISO15189:2012 section 5.6.4
Ideal Specifications of an EQA Provider
An ideal EQA programme provider should provide the following:
“EQA should, as far as possible, cover the entire range of tests, and the entire examination process, from sample reception, preparation and analysis to interpretation and reporting.”– ISO 15189:2012
- International accreditation
- ‘Blind’ samples
- Large participant numbers
- Stable and consistent sample matrix
- Sample matrix similar to patient sample
- Realistic range of analyte concentrations
- Frequent analysis
- Rapid feedback
- Detailed reports
RIQAS Advisory Panel
All RIQAS participants have access to an independent advisory panel consisting of several scientific and clinical experts. The independent advisory panel ensures the RIQAS scheme is conducted in a professional and ethical way it also guarantees participant confidentiality.