The Veterinary Laboratory Association Quality Assurance Program® (VLA-QAP) is an external interlaboratory comparison program specially designed for veterinary laboratories and hospitals to provide a confidential means of comparing laboratory’s internal test results to those of peers in the veterinary laboratory field. The program offered by the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), offers:

  1. Customized, professional reports that let participants know where they stand in relation to their peers.
  2. A great way to monitor sample analysis and personnel performance.
  3. Quarterly tracking of laboratory test method and instrument performance.
  4. Expert review and interpretation of data

Participants can choose any combination of the eleven areas of testing (modules) to customize the program to meet the needs of their facility. Sample specimens are sent out four times per year for participants to analyze.

Areas of Laboratory Testing (Modules)

  • Bacteriology: Provides 4 samples (2 aquatic and 2 terrestrial bacteriology) samples per year for culture and sensitivity.
  • Chemistry: Offers 8 or 10 samples per year for testing of over 30 analytes.
  • Cytology: Provides 4 cases per year for diagnosis and interpretation. Provided is a virtual image of a Wright-Giemsa stained fluid and or tissue preparation.
  • Endocrinology: Provides 4 samples per year for analysis of 6 hormones.
  • Hematology: Offers 4 or 8 whole blood samples and 4 Wright-Giemsa stained slides for differentials.
  • Hematology Exotics: Provides 2 cases per year accompanied with a virtual image for differential assessment.
  • Histopathology: Provides 4 cases per year accompanied with virtual images for morphological interpretation.
  • Parasitology: Provides 2 samples per year for identification.
  • Serology: Provides 8 companion animal samples per year for analysis.
  • Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: Provides 4 samples per year for analysis of 3 different drugs.
  • Urinalysis: Provides 4 samples per year consisting of both website images of sediment to identify and samples for macroscopic and microscopic analyses.

Data is pooled and statistically analyzed by the Atlantic Veterinary College. Within three weeks, confidential reports using both graphical and numerical data for quick review are provided

Figure 1: Example of individual client report for Sodium from the CHEM module.

Review articles are provided alongside results for hematology differentials, bacteriology, cytology, parasitology and histopathology modules. Comments and interpretations are presented by veterinary specialists which provides a unique continuing education tool for participants.

The VLA Quality Assurance Program® reinforces the internal confidence in your laboratory, your results, and the services you offer. It’s about letting your clients know that you are prepared to go the distance to make sure you offer services of the highest quality.

Key Features and Benefits

The benefits of interlaboratory comparison testing are widely recognized. These include:

  • Comparison of a facility’s performance with that of other participating facilities
  • Monitoring of a long-term facility performance
  • Improvement in the performance of tests/calibrations following investigation and identification of the cause of unsatisfactory PT performance, and the introduction of corrective action to prevent re-occurrence
  • Staff education, training and competence monitoring
  • Evaluation of methods, including the establishment of method precision and accuracy
  • Estimation of measurement uncertainty
  • Contribution to the facility’s overall risk management system
  • Confidence building with interested parties, e.g. customers, accreditation bodies, regulators, specifies

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“Participation in an external quality assurance program may signal problems or may serve to reinforce the work already being done. Either way, it will increase awareness and enhance the overall performance of the laboratory personnel.”

Joyce StringfellowAuburn University.