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External quality assessment of microbial counts from water: To score or not to score for proficiency

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nigel Lightfoot, Dr Simon Eaton


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Scoring schemes were first introduced in water-chemistry inter-laboratory proficiency tests. Such scoring does not behave in a comparable manner when applied to microbiology external quality assessment. Conventional scores can become a lottery. This poses a challenge to (a) find helpful statistical methods which will look beyond this natural variation and (b) attempt to identify any poor performance by the participants. The aim is to provide useful management tools. In the Public Health Laboratory Service, water external quality assessment scheme participants have detected methodology problems. Formal analyses are carried out on cumulated results in two stages, first demonstrating whether there is any systematic difference between laboratories of microbiological as well as statistical significance and only then allocating participants to categories of acceptable, or poor, performance. The scheme has been operating for several years and performance improvements are evident.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tillett HE, Lightfoot NF, Eaton S, Place BM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water and Environment Journal

Year: 2000

Volume: 14

Issue: 4

Pages: 304-308

ISSN (print): 1747-6585

ISSN (electronic): 1747-6593

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-6593.2000.tb00265.x


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