What is Proficiency Testing (PT) and Inter Laboratory Comparison (ILC)?
Proficiency Testing is the determination of the calibration or testing performance of a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) against pre-established criteria by means of inter- laboratory comparison (ILC). ILC is the organization, performance and evaluation of measurements or tests on the same or similar items by two or more CABs in accordance with pre-established conditions.
What are the major aspects of JANAAC’s policy on PT and ILC?
During an assessment and the decision making process, JANAAC, where applicable, examines the CAB’s participation and performance in PT and other comparisons as described in the Procedure for Assessing Participation in Inter - Laboratory Comparisons. CABs shall purchase test comparisons from external providers as JANAAC shall not provide these products. JANAAC shall however provide assistance and support in identifying relevant providers by maintaining a list of appropriate PT and other comparisons programmes. Where it becomes necessary, JANAAC may organize proficiency testing or other comparisons itself, or may involve another body judged to be competent.
In cases where the use of PT and other comparison programmes are appropriate and available, JANAAC requires its accredited laboratories to participate in these programmes and carry out corrective actions when and where necessary. Lack of an existing comparison programme does not mean that JANAAC will not accredit a laboratory as it is recognized that there are particular areas where the use of PT is not particularly meaningful e.g. in the case of laboratories working in the field of certain function test areas, or in unique areas in which there is/are perhaps only one or a few laboratories accredited. This exemption applies solely to test laboratories as calibration comparisons are always required.
For each accredited testing laboratory, JANAAC requires that the laboratory participates annually in PT programmes to reasonably cover its scope of accreditation during the four-year period between accreditation and renewal assessment, or between two renewal assessments. For accredited calibration laboratories, the objective is that they should participate in a calibration comparison for each function/concept for which they are accredited at least once every two years. These comparisons may be either national calibration comparisons or other international comparisons.
Important Check list in the assessment of PT participation by CABs
- Is there clear recognition of CAB of the importance of ILC and PT to Quality Assurance?
- Is there a PT participation plan?
- Is there provision to review the plan in response to changes in staffing, methodology, instrumentation etc?
- When was the most recent participation?
- Who was the PT provider?
- Is this provider accredited?
- If not, is there any indication of their proficiency in delivering this PT program?
- What were the results of the labs participation?
- If there were adverse results, how did the CAB respond to these results?
- If accredited did the CAB’s inform JANAAC of poor performance in PT program?
- How did they treat with recent test results and reports sent to clients?
- Did the CAB develop appropriate Corrective Actions (CAs) to these adverse results?
- Were these CAs implemented?
- If not, is there a timetable for implementation?