The National Reference Method Laboratory Network has initiated a program to certify clinical laboratory cholesterol measurement performance by using routine clinical specimens. Clinical laboratory and reference laboratory measurements of split samples are used to assess whether the clinical laboratory is meeting the Laboratory Standardization Panel's goals for accuracy and precision. We used a computer-based Monte Carlo simulation model of split-sample proficiency testing to evaluate the certification program and, in particular, to analyze the effects of reference laboratory bias and imprecision. Results of our simulations indicate that the accuracy of the certification program is strongly influenced by reference laboratory bias and less influenced by reference laboratory imprecision. The certification program is potentially highly accurate, but unless reference laboratory bias is tightly controlled, the number of classification errors may limit its utility. Moreover, the decision limit of the certification program needs to be higher than the Laboratory Standardization Panel's goal (3.5% instead of 3.0%) to ensure that an acceptably high proportion of well-performing clinical laboratories can become certified.
- computer-simulation models
- proficiency testing
- quality control
- receiver- operating characteristic curves