Quality and accuracy of Medichecks' results
At Medichecks we are often asked how we know that the results from the laboratories we use are accurate and true, and whether NHS laboratories and private laboratories undergo the same procedures and inspections to ensure the quality of results. Some of our customers ask for this information so that they can show their own doctor or consultant, especially if they are not familiar with Medichecks and the laboratories we use.
Most laboratories in the UK voluntarily subscribe to UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Services) which is the sole national accreditation body for the UK recognised by government. This organisation assesses all the enrolled laboratories against internationally agreed standards for all aspects of the laboratory from sample receipt, to analysis and also reporting. It also assesses all staff competencies from training, to continuing professional development to daily responsibility and ability in the laboratory. UKAS also assesses the performance of the laboratory in registered external quality assessment schemes such as NEQAS where laboratories receive samples to analyse and the results must then be returned to be compared to the rest of the country’s labs. Any failure of any aspect of a UKAS inspection, which can last many days (sometimes up to 15 days with numerous expert inspectors), can lead to suspension of the laboratory’s accreditation status. All laboratories undergo a large multi-day inspection every four years with surveillance inspections taking place every year. During the year the laboratory also participate in internal quality control on a daily basis where artificial samples with known values are analysed and if these quality control results fail certain strict rules then patient samples cannot be done until the errors have been corrected. Similarly, all labs subscribe to NEQAS for monthly or more frequent external samples to be checked to ensure that results are correct.
Medichecks use two very large and well-known private laboratories within the UK for analysing blood samples and our quality and management teams visit these laboratories to ensure that all their policies and procedures conform to the very high standards that we require. However, both these laboratories are UKAS accredited and therefore both have undergone the very same stringent inspections as carried out by UKAS across all NHS laboratories. All laboratories and all tests that are accredited by UKAS are published on the official UKAS website to ensure there is full transparency on which laboratories are accredited and which ones are suspended until improvements can be proven. Laboratories that do not register for accreditation will not appear on these lists and most NHS labs, researchers and private labs will not use unaccredited labs for any testing unless they have very rigorous evidence that the results they produce are correct. The unaccredited labs so used are usually laboratories in Europe that are accredited in their own countries and that offer very rare and unusual tests not routinely offered within the UK.
It does happen very rarely in all laboratories that mistakes are made and if you do find that a result does not correlate with what have been expected, please let us know via our customer’s services team as we would be more than glad to investigate and where necessary offer a retest if there is any doubt about the accuracy of a result.
Dr Peter Prinsloo MBChB FRCP, FRCPath
About Peter Prinsloo in his own words:
"I am a Consultant Chemical Pathologist and also a general “jobbing” physician with patient responsibility in a large NHS teaching and University hospital. I am an active fellow of both the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Physicians and at the latter I am also an examiner for the final clinical exams (PACES). I am also the head of service (Laboratory Director) of a very large combined Chemistry, Haematology and Immunology laboratory at my NHS Trust. Hence, reporting accurate and correct results is of utmost importance to me as I have a foot in both camps not only as a producer of results but also as a very active user of results.
I am chair of the Medichecks Clinical Governance Committee, lead the clinical inspection team and report on numerous blood test results for Medichecks every week"