Some of the primary quality management systems implemented includes the following:
- Annual calibration of centrifuges, autoclaves, and biosafety hoods
- Sterility checks and certificate of analysis (COA) for reagents and supplements used
- Daily temperature checks of incubators, refrigerators, and water baths
- Autoclave sterility checks per cycle
- Daily positive controls and weekly quantitative controls to document recovery
- Duplicate analysis per every 10 samples
- Traceability records on samples, media, and reagents
- Media sterility checks, positive growth check, and quantification of Legionella growth which must be greater than 70%.
- Regular participation in proficiency testing
- Quality assessment is an essential element of good laboratory practice and a scheme that is organized externally enables labs to assess their performance against that of other participants. There are many benefits of proficiency testing, also referred to as external quality assessment (EQA). Some of the benefits include the following:
Provides regular and independent assessment of the quality of a lab’s performance in its routine work
Helps identify potential problems and encourages good performance
Supports laboratory accreditation, as accreditation bodies strongly endorse the role of proficiency testing in quality assurance
Identifies competent laboratories
Enables comparison of performance with one’s peers
Provides a means of training and monitoring analysts, validating methods, or performing internal quality control assessments.
The Nalco Legionella Laboratory participates in two separate External Quality Assessment (EQA) schemes from two highly reputable laboratories in the United Kingdom (Health Protection Agency and LGC Standards Proficiency Testing). Nalco hold certificates of participation for both of these programs. Nalco chooses to follow proficiency testing developed in a country where the most stringent Legionella testing guidelines are implemented.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have developed a program that allows for laboratories in the United States to test their Legionella isolation techniques against a standardized sample. Nalco is an ELITE (Environmental Legionella Isolation Techniques Evaluation) member and formed part of the CDC Pilot Program as an ELITE pilot member. Nalco will continue to adopt best practices as necessary.