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Quality control data management with unity real-time in molecular virology.

INTRODUCTION: Quality control (QC) is one component of an overarching quality management system (QMS) that aims at assuring laboratory quality and patient safety. QC data must be acceptable prior to reporting patients' results. Traditionally, QC statistics, records, and corrective actions were tracked at the Johns Hopkins Molecular Virology Laboratory using Microsoft Excel. Unity Real-Time (UnityRT), a QMS software (Bio-Rad Laboratories), which captures and analyzes QC data by instrument and control lot per assay, was implemented and its impact on the workflow was evaluated. The clinical utility of real-time QC monitoring using UnityRT is highlighted with a case of subtle QC trending of HIV-1 quantitative control results.

METHODS: A comprehensive workflow analysis was performed, with a focus on Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and BKV quantitative viral load testing (Roche cobas 6800). The number of QC steps and time to complete each step were assessed before and after implementing UnityRT.

RESULTS: Our assessment of monthly QC data review revealed a total of 10 steps over 57 min when using Microsoft Excel, versus 6 steps over 11 min when using UnityRT. HIV-1 QC monitoring revealed subtle trending of the low positive control above the mean from November to December 2022, correlating with a change in the reagent kit lot. This associated with a shift in patients' results from positives below the lower limit of quantification to positives between 20 and 100 copies/mL.

CONCLUSIONS: UnityRT consolidated QC analyses, monitoring, and tracking corrective actions. UnityRT was associated with significant time savings, which along with the interfaced feature of the QC capture and data analysis, have improved the workflow and reduced the risk of laboratory errors. The HIV-1 case revealed the value of the real-time monitoring of QC.

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