A quality management system (QMS) plans, controls, and improves the elements that impact on the achievement of the desired results by the laboratory and on the satisfaction of the users. There are different standards that establish requirements for the implementation of a quality management system for laboratories, and a cross comparison between them is shown. Additionally, external quality assurance or assessment (EQA) programs offer multiple benefits to laboratories: method validation, comparing of results with other laboratories, testing problem identification, accreditation requirement compliance, and credibility. In order to control the quality of the procedures, these programs are a tool to keep the laboratory procedures and every variable involved in (staff, equipment, and method) well controlled. In the frame of a quality management system, benefits from external quality assurance programs are discussed, and different available designs are reviewed. On the other hand, previous benefits will be real only if reported results for each program are analyzed in detail. Because additional advantages are achieved when the EQA results are integrated in the quality management system of the laboratory, a procedure is proposed. In addition, results from external quality assurance programs corroborate the usefulness of internal controls implemented by the laboratory as part of its quality management system.
Part of the book: Quality Control in Laboratory