The European Organization for External Quality Assessment in Laboratory Medicine (EQALM) has, de facto, become the international meeting for PT/EQA providers. While the organization is European, members come not only from across Europe but also from China, the Caribbean, India, and, of course, Canada. The structure of the organization is that it has special working groups for some disciplines, as well as open plenary discussion for others. Dr. Noble and CMPT has the honor of being the Chair of the Microbiology Working Group through to 2018, and potentially on to 2021.
This year, the meeting was held in Barcelona, Spain and most of the plenary discussions where focused on PT issues of a general nature, such as traceability and commutability and analytic accuracy. While issues of accuracy and traceability may have particular relevance to chemistry, commutability (the degree to which PT samples resemble clinical samples) is particularly important for CMPT and our degree of clinical sample simulation.
The Microbiology Working Group has targeted antimicrobial resistance as a key topic for investigation. World-wide organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations have focused attention on the importance of identifying and containing antimicrobial resistant microbes, with the ultimate view towards elimination.
PT/EQA can have an important role in moving this forward. Through the process of challenging laboratories and identifying those with difficulty in correctly reporting antimicrobial resistant isolates, we can help improve the skills of laboratories and hasten detection and assist in containment of antibiotic resistance. The working group will be taking on a number of projects that will highlight this topic.
We look forward to continuing to actively work with our international (and national) colleagues over the next number of years on this and other related topics.