Proficiency Testing is a key element in the laboratory accreditation process, alongside reference materials, enabling labs to monitor the quality of their analytical results. Proficiency testing determines the performance of individual laboratories for specific tests or measurements, and is used to evaluate laboratories’ continuing performance. PT is also called interlaboratory comparison.
For labs who are pursing formal laboratory accreditation for the first time, it is particularly important as an initial step in that process. Many accreditation programs require successful demonstrated perform
ance in PT programs prior to initial quality audits. Even if there are no plans for accreditation, successful participation in PT programs can provide a handy means for demonstrating accurate laboratory performance, and be utilized in a variety of ways, from providing marketing materials for sales to measuring individual employee performance and training.
The mechanics of a PT program are straightforward – an unknown sample(s) is received and analyzed by the laboratory, the lab results are returned to the PT provider, a statistical analysis of the all labs’ results is performed, and the individual laboratory receives data on their performance compared to all other laboratories (individual laboratory results are revealed only to each laboratory).
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