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The role of analytical performance specifications in international guidelines and standards dealing with metrological traceability in laboratory medicine.

The goal of metrological traceability is to have equivalent results for a measurand in clinical samples (CSs) irrespective of the in-vitro diagnostic medical device (IVD-MD) used for measurements. The International Standards Organization standard 17511 defines requirements for establishing metrological traceability of values assigned to calibrators, trueness control materials and human samples used with IVD-MDs. Each step in metrological traceability has an uncertainty associated with the value assigned to a material. The uncertainty at each step adds to the uncertainty from preceding steps such that the combined uncertainty gets larger at each step. The combined uncertainty for a CS result must fulfil an analytical performance specification (APS) for the maximum allowable uncertainty ( umax CS ). The umax CS can be partitioned among the steps in a metrological traceability calibration hierarachy to derive the APS for maximum allowable uncertainty at each step. Similarly, the criterion for maximum acceptable noncommutability bias can be derived from the umax CS . One of the challenges in determining if umax CS is fulfilled is determining the repeatability uncertainty ( u Rw ) from operating an IVD-MD within a clinical laboratory. Most of the current recommendations for estimating u Rw from internal quality control data do not use a sufficiently representative time interval to capture all relevant sources of variability in measurement results. Consequently, underestimation of u Rw is common and may compromise assessment of how well current IVD-MDs and their supporting calibration hierarchies meet the needs of clinical care providers.

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