Last year has been an ordeal for many around the world. Taking aside the risks, and unfortunate threats to human health that this year brought, organizations, institutions, and businesses have been definitely impacted, all too frequently negatively.
Institutions (hospitals, laboratories, couriers) have been under tremendous pressure to meet new demands and expectations; at the same time many people have lost their jobs or their businesses.
During the last year CMPT was deemed by the University of British Columbia as an essential service and remained open throughout the year within the context of COVID-19 and complying with all the new safety requirements and limitations.
At the same time other staffing issues and demands impacted our internal operations; our intent and goal were that these would not affect our service quality or our ability to meet the needs of our customers.
In February 2021 a survey was sent to CMPT’s customers to evaluate how they were impacted during the last year. The survey consisted of 12 questions that could be answered, either by a pre-set choice list and or by written comments an could be answered in 2 minutes or less.
About half of the responses came from our clinical laboratory participants and the other half from the water testing laboratories and we had a sufficient number or responses for the results to be considered as both representative and generalizable.
Well working communication is important in proficiency testing to address laboratories questions or concerns. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of respondents reported that that was their experience while three percent had an occasional problem that was quickly addressed (Fig 1).
With respect to the shipping and receiving of our samples, ninety percent (90%) experienced no issues and of those that did, most saw the problem as originating at their facility’s end rather than on CMPT’s end.
Eighty-five percent (85%) did not report difficulties with our reports, critiques, or grading (Fig. 2). One comment raised some concerns on clarifying how grading determinations are made.
This information is available on our website but it is possible that the person making the comment may have not had the opportunity to look at it. Unfortunately, because of the anonymous nature of the survey, it was not possible for us to address the problem directly unless they contact us directly with this issue. This may be a topic for an upcoming issue of CMPT Connections.
With respect to the quality of our samples, most reported no problems but some did (Fig 3).
In the water testing laboratory community, one problem stood out and was reported by more than one laboratory. The issue seemed to be related to a delayed or questionable testing response with one commercial product when testing PT samples. This became the subject of a thorough investigation, which noted that the problems were scattered, intermittent, and never reproduced. We were unable to identify the cause of the problem though we are following up with interest to see if the problem persists.
An important question was raised about how the laboratories have been fairing during the year; it appeared that many had been having problems with personnel,(1) workload (2), supplies (3), continuing education (4) and lots of stress (5) (Fig 4). It has been a difficult time.
In summary this has been a difficult time for many in the laboratory community. Fortunately, most of the laboratories found the service from CMPT did not contribute to the problems.
Regardless of the size or complexity (or lack thereof) of problems laboratories have with our products or services, CMPT addresses all quality and customer issues thoroughly.
Dr. Michael Noble, CMPT Director