At CMPT, we take a number of measures to ensure that laboratories understand that we take our responsibility for proficiency testing (also known as External Quality Assessment) as both core and critical:
- We ensure that we maintain our quality and performance as top of mind through our accreditation to the international standard ISO/IEC17043:2010 (Competency assessment: Conformity assessment — General requirements for proficiency testing)
- We continue to ensure that our quality system meets the requirements of ISO9001:2008/2015 (Quality Management Systems – Requirements)
- We regularly monitor laboratory opinion of our services and practices through electronic surveys, and we publish all our results in our Annual Report.
One expectation we strive to keep is to ensure that our approach to grading challenges is consistent. Participants deserve and have the right to demand that grading is done thoughtfully and consistently. This can be a challenge for organizations as old as CMPT where committee members change over time, microbial identities change and, importantly, clinical interpretations change.
For the longest time grading consistency was monitored only by “corporate memory” by participants that had a long experience with CMPT and knew and understood our approach to grading. However, by 2014, it was felt that a grading guideline needed to be formulated, to help the committee grade in a consistent way. The CMPT Grading Guideline is a continual “work in progress” balancing between maintaining a consistent approach and recognizing that laboratory approach and interpretation of laboratory results change with time. Laboratory structural changes that have resulted from mergers and consolidation have changed approaches to laboratory testing. Methodologies, such as MALDI TOF MS, while not found in all laboratories has an impact on how bacteria are selected and tested for identity. Today’s very appropriate concerns about antibiotic resistance and the importance of antibiotic stewardship impact on our approach to susceptibility testing and reporting.
All these factors being taken into consideration should not impact CMPT’s responsibility towards evaluation and grading of results.
The committee’s efforts to maintain consistency are underscored by the Grading Guidelines Guiding Principles: