We started off the year discussing the importance of participating within a Proficiency Testing (PT) program if you are generating internal testing results within your facility. Without this valuable information, your company may be at risk due to not knowing with 100% accuracy that the results being generated are true. In the world of food safety today, this should not be one of those toss a coin moments. Simple but true – if you are generating your own results, MAKE SURE you are participating in a PT program!
And with June upon us, 2nd quarter testing results are either being generated within the next few weeks or have already been completed. Therefore, it is time to perform a “check-in” to see where you are standing by reviewing and answering the 3 following questions:
- If not done previously, review the first half of the year’s results.
- Did you have all satisfactory results? Take the following 3 steps:
- Track and trend the results.
- Note any trends in consecutive negative or positive results (by test, by quarter, by technician).
- No action is needed, but the information is good to trend. Remember though that statistically, consecutive trends of all positive or negative results could indicate there may be a bias present.
- Did you have any questionable results? If so – take action on the following 3 steps:
- Same as satisfactory, track/trend and review (by test, by quarter, by technician).
- Action not needed – but can be performed if wanted.
- Consecutive questionables for a specific test may warrant investigation. Review work, determine root cause and implement action if opportunity for improvement is discovered.
- Did you have any unsatisfactory results? If so – there are 3 necessary steps to take:
- Action is recommended.
- Review work, determine root cause and implement action (change to process, documents or training) as soon as possible.
- Determine if the cause of consecutive unsatisfactory results is the same or if the cause is different.
- Track results in a file that is easy to update and reference going forward.
- Use MS Excel or a similar program to track and trend your performance.
- Track the z’ score (or other result) by test.
- You may also want to track the performance score and any comments associated with the result.
- Set up a schedule to be diligent with inputting the results as they are received then to go back and enter them.
- Contact provider with questions or concerns about your performance. They should be able to help and give guidance on results and trends that you are seeing.
While these are all great points – they are only great if you are using them. So, step outside of that comfort zone, ask your manager or team leader to see your PT results from 2017 so far and have a discussion. You may be pleasantly surprised what comes out at the end of the conversation!