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ALL areas using point of care testing devices or kits must participate in external quality assessment schemes where there is one available. Failure to participate in the EQA scheme or continued poor performance will mean the device or kit will be removed from the ward or department.

What is EQA?

EQA is an abbreviation for External Quality Assessment.

The central concept behind external quality assessment is the distribution and analysis of a stable and consistent batch of control material to participating laboratories (for point of care it's wards and clinical departments) for analysis.

The participant (ward or clinical department) does not know beforehand what results to expect from the analysis. Results are returned to the EQA scheme organiser (POCT Coordinator) who processes the results and rate your value against the consensus value.

What is IQC?

IQC is an abbreviation for Internal Quality Control.

IQC assesses, in real time, whether the performance of an point of care testing device or kit is fit for use; it controls reproducibility or precision, and facilitates continuity of patient care over time. 

IQC uses a control material as close to a patient's sample as realistically possible and results are compared with predetermined limits of acceptability - unsatisfactory sets of results may thereby be suppressed.  Point of care testing devices or kits must not be used if IQC results are not within the specified range as this puts patients at significant risk.

  • IQC is used to control the process in real time.
  • IQC samples are run a minimum of daily (may be run more than once if there is any doubt regarding the accuracy of results)  

What is the difference between EQA and IQC?

  • IQA controls the analytical process in real time.
  • IQA assesses conformance to pre-set analytical precision goals.
  • EQA provides retrospective information on performance relative to other laboratories.
  • The EQA consensus mean is accepted as a target mean value

Last updated: 25 February 2016