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Understanding the limitations of your assay using EQA data with serum creatinine as an example.

OBJECTIVES: Laboratories need to take into consideration the specificity and imprecision of assays not only in verification, but also of quality assessment. This study investigates the composition of serum used in EQA materials by comparing material from a single and multiple donors (pooled material), across multiple methods, using creatinine as an example.

METHODS: Sixteen different serum matrices were distributed as 36 specimens through the UK NEQAS for Acute and Chronic Kidney Disease Scheme from March 2022 to March 2023. Male-only and female-only serum was used as single donations, pooled donations, unmanipulated or with added exogenous creatinine. Specimens were distributed to primarily UK participants (approximately n=500) for creatinine analysis. Data has been reviewed by method compared to the enzymatic creatinine method principle mean.

RESULTS: From the 16 different matrices, only the enzymatic creatinine assay systems from Roche Cobas and Siemens Atellica met the minimum acceptable bias goal, from biological data, of 5.6 %, in all specimens. Pooled material showed less variation in bias across all methods.

CONCLUSIONS: Since Laboratories invest a lot of time and money in quality management, they need to know the limitations of their assays so that they are not investigating 'apparent' EQA/IQC problems which are purely due to non-specific, imprecise assay, rather than an analytical issue in their laboratory. When large numbers of individual donations are combined, interferents are essentially diluted out. Therefore, if EQA material is of this type it will be very difficult to determine the actual assay's bias and variability.

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