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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

External quality assurance as a revalidation method for pathologists in pediatric histopathology: Comparison of four international programs

Consolato Sergi* and Gregor Mikuz

Author Affiliations

Institute of Pathology, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria

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BMC Clinical Pathology 2008, 8:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-8-11

Published: 12 November 2008

Abstract

Aim

External quality assurance (EQA) is an extremely valuable resource for clinical pathologists to maintain high standards, improve diagnostic skills, and possibly revalidate medical license. The aim of this study was to participate in and compare four international slide survey programs (UK, IAP-Germany, USA-Canada, Australasia) in pediatric histopathology for clinical pathologists with the aim to use it as a revalidation method.

Methods

The following parameters were evaluated: number of circulations per year, number of slides, membership requirement, proof of significant pediatric pathology work, open to overseas participants, laboratory accreditation, issue of continuing professional development certificates and credits, slides discussion meeting, use of digital images, substandard performance letter, and anonymity of responses.

Results

The UK scheme, which has sampling procedure over several time frames (2 circulations/year, 30 slides), partial confidentiality, and multiple sources of data and assessors, can be used as a model for revalidation. The US-Canadian and Australasian schemes only partially fulfill the revalidation requirements. The IAP scheme appears to be essentially an educational program and may be unsuitable for revalidation.

Conclusion

The purposes and programs of EQA schemes vary worldwide. In order for it to be used for revalidation, it is advisable that EQA schemes are immediately unified.