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Sigma Metrics used to Evaluate the Performance of Internal Quality Control in a Clinical Biochemistry Laboratory by Zhong Han, Wu-Qiong Zhou, Wei-Lin Mao, Wei-Wei Zheng

Background: The performance of 17 routine chemical detection methods was evaluated by the Sigma (σ) index, and separate quality control standards were established according to the sigma values of different detection methods.
Methods: The internal quality control (IQC) and external quality assessment (EQA) data of 17 assays in the biochemical laboratory of our hospital were collected from January to June 2019. Referring to the total allowed error (TEa) standards established in the Health Industry Standards of the People's Republic of China (WS/T 403-2012), the sigma metric of each assay was calculated, the performance level for inspection was evaluated, the quality goal index (QGI) was calculated for items with analysis performance < 5 sigma, and the main causes of poor performance were determined to guide quality improvement.
Results: For level 1 internal quality control (IQC), five assays (AMY, Crea, UA, TP, and Na) showed a performance of ≥ 6 sigma levels. Five assays (GGT, LDH, ALP, K, and Ca) had a performance lower than 3 sigma. For level 2 IQC, nine assays (ALT, AST, CK, AMY, Crea, UA, TP, Na, and Mg) achieved 6 sigma, and four assays (GGT, LDH, ALP, and K) achieved less than 3 sigma. Among the 12 assays with a sigma value < 5, the precision of 1 assay should be improved first, the accuracy of 6 assays should be improved next, and both the precision and the accuracy of 5 assays should be improved.
Conclusions: The sigma metric is the best tool for evaluating the performance of different test methods. Assays with high sigma values can be evaluated with single-rule quality control, while assays with low values should be evaluated with strict quality control rules.

DOI: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2020.200301