October can be a busy month! This year, that was especially so, with the Program Office for Laboratory Quality Management hosting its October Quality Conference: “Laboratory Quality in Challenging times”, and the CMPT Annual General Meeting, and also the European Organization for External Quality Assurance Providers in Laboratory Medicine (EQALM), which was held this year in Dublin, Ireland. All three events are both excellent and exciting, with the EQALM meeting perhaps more so, being bracketed with Hurricane Ophelia at the beginning and Storm Brian at the end.
EQALM is the annual conference for folks interested in proficiency testing (EQA) in all medical laboratory disciplines. This year, there were near 100 people coming from 32 countries from 5 continents. Dr. Noble was attending, not only representing CMPT, but also as the current chair of the Microbiology Working Group. In the latter capacity, he hosted two symposia.
Within the Working Group, he presented on a recent survey involving 7 EQA organizations with a capacity of some 1500 microbiology laboratories. The survey was on the performance of laboratories testing bacteria with known antibiotic resistance. For Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci, the Very Major Error (VME) Rate (reported as Sensitive when verified and validated as Resistant) was 2.5%. For Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, the VME rate was over 6 percent. Plans for two future studies were discussed.
This year, the EQALM main symposium was focused on microbiology issues, but as markers of broader EQA topics. Dr. Hilde Skar Norli of the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, spoke on Validation of Alternative Microbiological Methods for Good, Feed, and Environmental Samples.
Dr. Rosanna Peeling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (and formerly of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg) spoke about EQA for Point of Care Testing for Chlamydia, as one example of Sexually Transmitted Infection, with particular reference to Developing Countries.
Dr. Willy Urassa, of the World Health Organization, spoke about WHO efforts to support the development of national EQA programs, again with special focus in Developing Countries. (CMPT has been an active participant with WHO for many years).
Dr. Noble presented on the development of video clips as a new modality for delivering pre-, post- and peri- examination EQA, a program the CMPT developed over the past two years. There was particular interest by several countries that see great flexibility and appeal for EQA in their own regions.
Next year the meeting will be hosted in Zagrab, Croatia. We are all looking forward to it, and hoping that we can do without the extra excitement of hurricanes and storms.