Medical laboratories perform tests on clinical specimens in order to obtain information about the health of a patient for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Credibility of medical laboratories is paramount to the health and safety of the patients relying on these testing services. In Belgium, Sciensano is responsible for the practical organisation of the External Quality Assessment of medical laboratories for anatomic pathology.
Sciensano assesses all laboratories that want to be recognised by the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI) to evaluate whether or not they meet the requirements. This External Quality Assessment (EQA) is mainly informative and is designed to evaluate the quality and homogeneity of laboratory results. Therefore, the participating laboratories receive a set of clinical samples from Sciensano for analysis in their laboratory. That way, the EQA allows a participating laboratory to assess their performance in comparison to its peers or to accuracy based reference systems. EQA never replaces the internal Quality Assessment and Management System of the laboratory.
Vanessa Ghislain for more information.