Respiratory viruses point-of-care external quality assessment

External quality assessment of point-of-care testing provision is now an integral part of laboratory accreditation to the new ISO 15189 UKAS standards. Here, Sanjiv Rughooputh and colleagues from the UK Health Security Agency focus on the need for EQA of a respiratory virus POC service.

Viral respiratory tract infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, contributing to a significant economic burden.1 Influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human SARS-CoV-2 are currently the main contributors to the viral respiratory tract infections circulating in the population.2

 Diagnosis is generally based on clinical symptoms. However, it is often not possible to determine the specific causative agent in this way due to the generalised symptoms present.3 Point-of-care (POC) diagnostic tests are especially useful in the emergency or intensive care setting as they provide rapid results, aiding prompt decision-making with regard to patient care.

ISO 15189 standards must be met by medical laboratories in the UK to help ensure confidence in the quality of practice. These standards have recently been updated to incorporate requirements for POC testing. This will improve the standardisation of such testing, thereby regulating the level of care for all patients.4

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