VERITAS?: A time for VERIQAS™ and a new approach to training, education, and the quality assessment of CD4+ T lymphocyte counting (I).

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2012-03

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Abstract

Background

The aim of clinical laboratories is to produce accurate and reproducible results to enable effective and reliable clinical practice and patient management. The standard approach is to use both internal quality control (IQC) and external quality assessment (EQA). IQC serves, in many instances, as a "go, no go" tool to provide real time assurance that instruments and reagent or test systems are performing within defined specifications. EQA however, takes a snapshot at a specific point in time of the full testing process, results are compared to other laboratories performing similar testing but inevitably has some built in delay from sample issue to performance data review. In addition, if IQC or EQA identify areas of concern it can be difficult to determine the exact nature of the problem. In an attempt to address this problem, we have developed an instant QA panel that we have termed VERIQAS™, specifically for CD4(+) T lymphocyte counting, and have undertaken a "proof of principle" pilot study to examine how the use of VERIQAS™ could result in improvement of laboratory performance. In addition, we have examined how this approach could be used as a training and education tool (in a domestic/international setting) and potentially be of value in instrument validation/switch studies (a switch study being defined as a laboratory changing from one method/instrument to a new method/instrument with the VERIQAS™ panel being used as an adjunct to their standard switch study protocol).

Methods

The basic panel consists of 20 stabilized samples, with predefined CD4(+) T lymphocyte counts, that span low clinically relevant to normal counts, including some blinded replicates (singlet up to quadruplicate combinations). The CD4(+) T lymphocyte target values for each specimen is defined as the trimmed mean ± 2 trimmed standard deviations, where the trimmed values are derived from the CD4(+) T lymphocyte counts reported by the participating centers (~780 laboratories) that receive each UK NEQAS for Leucocyte Immunophenotyping send out. Results for the VERIQAS™ panel were returned online, via a specially designed website, and the participant was provided with an immediate assessment (pass or fail).

Results

To date, the panel has been preliminary trialed by eight laboratories to (i) assess pre-EQA qualification (two laboratories); (ii) address performance issues (two laboratories); or (iii) validate new instruments or techniques (four laboratories). Interestingly, even in this pilot study, the panel has been instrumental in identifying specific technical problems in laboratories with EQA performance issues as well as confirming that implementation of new techniques or instruments have been successful.

Conclusion

We report here a new and novel "proof of principle" pilot study to quality assessment, that we have termed VERIQAS™, designed to provide instant feedback on performance. Participating laboratories receive 20 "blinded" samples that are in singlet up to quadruplicate combinations. Once a centre reports its results via a website, immediate feedback is provided to both the participant and the EQA organizers, enabling, if required, the initiation of targeted remedial action. We have also shown that this approach has the potential to be used as a tool for prequalification, troubleshooting, training and instrument verification. Pilot phase field trials with VERIQAS™ have shown that the panel can highlight laboratory performance problems, such as suboptimal instrument set up, pipetting and gating strategies, in a rapid and efficient manner. VERIQAS™ will now be introduced, where appropriate, as a second phase study within UK NEQAS for Leucocyte Immunophenotyping to assist those laboratories that have performance issues and also made available to laboratories for training and education of staff and instrument validation studies.

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10.1002/cyto.b.20624

Publication Info

Barnett, David, Liam Whitby, John Wong, Raul Louzao, John T Reilly and Thomas N Denny (2012). VERITAS?: A time for VERIQAS™ and a new approach to training, education, and the quality assessment of CD4+ T lymphocyte counting (I). Cytometry. Part B, Clinical cytometry, 82(2). pp. 93–100. 10.1002/cyto.b.20624 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22521.

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Scholars@Duke

Denny

Thomas Norton Denny

Professor in Medicine

Thomas N. Denny, MSc, M.Phil, is the Chief Operating Officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), Associate Dean for Duke Research and Discovery @RTP, and a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He is also an Affiliate Member of the Duke Global Health Institute. Previously, he served on the Health Sector Advisory Council of the Duke University Fuquay School of Business. Prior to joining Duke, he was an Associate Professor of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Assistant Dean for Research in Health Policy at the New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey. He has served on numerous committees for the NIH over the last two decades and currently is the principal investigator of an NIH portfolio in excess of 65 million dollars. Mr. Denny was a 2002-2003 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM). As a fellow, he served on the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with legislation/policy responsibilities in global AIDS, bioterrorism, clinical trials/human subject protection and vaccine related-issues.

As the Chief Operating Officer of the DHVI, Mr. Denny has senior oversight of the DHVI research portfolio and the units/teams that support the DHVI mission. He has extensive international experience and previously was a consultant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) project to oversee the development of an HIV and Public Health Center of Excellence laboratory network in Guyana. In September 2004, the IOM appointed him as a consultant to their Board on Global Health Committee studying the options for overseas placement of U.S. health professionals and the development of an assessment plan for activities related to the 2003 PEPFAR legislative act. In the 1980s, Mr. Denny helped establish a small laboratory in the Republic of Kalmykia (former Soviet Union) to improve the care of children with HIV/AIDS and served as a Board Member of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund Foundation. In 2005, Mr. Denny was named a consulting medical/scientific officer to the WHO Global AIDS Program in Geneva. He has also served as program reviewers for the governments of the Netherlands and South Africa as well as an advisor to several U.S. biotech companies. He currently serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for Grid Biosciences.

Mr. Denny has authored and co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and serves on the editorial board of Communications in Cytometry and Journal of Clinical Virology. He holds an M.Sc in Molecular and Biomedical Immunology from the University of East London and a degree in Medical Law (M.Phil) from the Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine, School of Law, University of Glasgow. In 1991, he completed a course of study in Strategic Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, he completed the Program for Advanced Training in Biomedical Research Management at Harvard School of Public Health. In December 2005, he was inducted as a Fellow into the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest medical society in the US.

While living in New Jersey, Mr. Denny was active in his community, gaining additional experience from two publicly elected positions. In 2000, Mr. Denny was selected by the New Jersey League of Municipalities to Chair the New Jersey Community Mental Health Citizens’ Advisory Board and Mental Health Planning Council as a gubernatorial appointment.


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