External Proficiency Testing

External Proficiency Testing (EPT) is an important activity in the quality management system at DSM. This testing helps to ensure that the systems DSM uses when analyzing patient samples are performing well when compared with expected results and results from similar labs.

DSM takes part in the EPT programs from various laboratory organizations in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These programs assess performance on thousands of tests across all laboratory disciplines several times per year.

How these programs work:

  • A program sends out samples that have been carefully prepared to duplicate actual human samples.
  • DSM receives the sample and tests it in the same way an actual patient sample would be tested, except that the results are sent back to the program rather than a health care provider. The correct results are unknown to DSM at the time of testing.
  • The EPT program then compares our results to peer groups and to the ‘true’ value for each result and sends a report back to DSM.
  • Any results that do not meet the standards set by the program are called non-conforming (NC) results. But not all non-conforming results are real ‘errors’ with clinical significance. DSM reviews and analyzes the reports in detail to determine what caused our results to deviate from the standard and to determine what other steps need to take place to prevent a similar non-conformance in the future.

DSM’s EPT data for laboratories across the province are handled through a central point so that the process is a valuable tool to monitor quality and performance across the organization and not just in a single laboratory. EPT data is reviewed on an ongoing basis by DSM’s Lab Managers and Supervisors, DSM Laboratory Discipline Teams, DSM Senior Management, the DSM Patient Safety Committee and our health care partners at the Manitoba Quality Assurance Program (MANQAP).