The provision of interpretative advice on laboratory results is a post-analytic activity and an integral part of clinical laboratory services. It is valued by healthcare workers and has the potential to prevent or reduce errors and improve patient outcomes. It is important to ensure that interpretative comments provided by laboratory personnel are of high quality: comments should be patient-focused and answer the implicit or explicit question raised by the requesting clinician. Comment providers need to be adequately trained and qualified and be able to demonstrate their proficiency to provide advice on laboratory reports. External quality assessment (EQA) schemes can play a part in assessing and demonstrating the competence of such laboratory staff and have an important role in their education and continuing professional development. A standard structure is proposed for EQA schemes for interpretative comments in clinical chemistry, which addresses the scope and method of assessment including nomenclature and marking scales. There is a need for evidence that participation in an EQA program for interpretative commenting facilitates improved quality of comments. It is proposed that standardizing goals and methods of assessment as well as nomenclature and marking scales may help accumulate evidence to demonstrate the impact of participation in EQA for interpretative commenting on patient outcome.
- clinical chemistry
- continuing professional development
- interpretative commenting
- postanalytical quality
- quality assessment