Using Vetqas PT schemes

Vetqas logoUsing Vetqas PT schemes

Using Vetqas PT LIMS

Results, Reports and Performance

Using Vetqas PT schemes

Q: How do I report my results?

A: Instructions are included with each set of samples – results must be entered online.

Q: How soon will I get the results?

A: Each scheme has a deadline date for return of results shown on the paperwork, and reports will be published on-line usually within 3 weeks of that date. Your laboratory contact person will be sent an automatic email indicating the report is available to view.

Q: How do I process the PT samples?

A: Instructions are included with each batch of samples for handling, storage, testing, disposal and reporting results. Participants are asked to treat the PT material in the same way as routine test material and to state their method when reporting results. It is important that this information is provided as results are evaluated according to the method stated.

Q: Are the samples safe to handle?

A: Samples may contain pathogens of hazard group 1 or 2 as classified by the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP). The handling and disposal of PT specimens should be exactly the same as for routine clinical samples in respect of current COSHH, safe working practices and safe disposal procedures.

Q: Are the PT samples stable if being issued worldwide with variable transit times?

A: Stability is an important part of the design and feasibility process for a PT scheme. The test materials should be stable at the stated storage temperatures for at least the period of the Proficiency Test round. Any environmental factors encountered during transportation to the destination have also been considered. Studies have shown there is no significant difference between results of test materials tested the day after despatch and those tested on the results entry deadline date.

Q: Are the samples suitable for all types of tests?

A: It must be noted that it is not possible to verify the samples prior to issue using all test methods or kits. The test method used to verify samples is noted on the final reports. Different methods of testing may produce different results. Therefore it is important the QAU scheme organiser is informed of the analytical methods used by the participant. Any changes to a testing procedure should be reported to the QAU.

Q: Where do you get your samples from?

A: Material used to make samples is mainly sourced from within the APHA. Some is obtained from various sources worldwide (including Vetqas customers). Most microbiological samples are made in the QA Unit.

Q: For serology schemes how much serum do you supply?

A: Often +ve sera is in short supply. However, enough sera is usually supplied for the test to be performed at least twice. Volumes mostly range between 0.25ml to 1ml.

Q: How can I give feedback on a PT scheme?

A: Feedback is welcomed for each PT Distribution issued and there is a section on each report form for comments. Alternatively, you can contact the QA Unit directly at any time at Vetqas@apha.gsi.gov.uk or complete one of our customer surveys.

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Using Vetqas PT LIMS

Q: What is the Vetqas PT LIMS?

A: Proficiency Testing Laboratory Information Management System. This is a system designed specifically for Vetqas®. It is used to administer all the contract and scheme details for all of our Proficiency Testing customers. It also processes submitted results and produces the tabulated reports.

Q: What web browser can I use for PT LIMS?

A: To access the electronic reporting system you will need to use at least Internet Explorer 6, Safari 2, Firefox 2, Opera 9 or Google Chrome.

Q: Where do I find the PT LIMS User Manual

A: Click ‘User Manual’ at the top of any page after you have logged in. There is also a Help button at the top of each page.

Q: How do I get a new login username and password?

A: We have a record of your login username so can send you a reminder. We do not have access to your login password. You can request a new password at any time by following these steps:

PT LIMS will automatically generate a new password for you and email it to the registered email address for your Lab ID.

Please follow the on-screen and email instructions carefully.

Q: I have requested a new password – why have I not received an email?

A: Check which email address is registered for your lab as this is where the new password email will be sent. Some filters recognize our automated emails as Junk mail or SPAM so check these folders in your mailbox. A message on screen will tell you if the website is temporarily unavailable in which case, please try again later. If you continue to have problems please contact our IT Unit at APHAServiceDesk@apha.gsi.gov.uk quoting your login username.

Q: I cannot login and it says my account has been locked. Why has this happened and how do I unlock my account?

A: As a security measure PT LIMS will lock your account if an incorrect username and/or password is entered five times. Only the APHA IT Unit can un-lock your account. Ask them to unlock your account by emailing them at APHAServiceDesk@apha.gsi.gov.uk quoting your login username. Accounts are also locked when you cancel your contract. At the time of cancellation you will be asked to print off any results or reports you may need reference to in the future. We will not un-lock accounts for cancelled customers unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Q: The person nominated for reporting results onto the online system will be away from the lab/office when results need to be entered. What should we do?

A: We recommend that the login username and password for your lab should be made available to several people within the same lab so that results can still be entered during the absence of the nominated person. The login details should be kept secure and confidential within your own lab.

Q: I am the Lab Manager / Quality Manager and would like to receive a copy of the results entered by my lab/s when they become available; is this possible?

A: Providing we receive permission from the participant/s we can add you as a ‘Viewer’ to your lab/s. You will receive your own login username and password to access the PT website and you will have read-only access to their results/reports.

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Results, Reports and Performance

Q: How do I investigate poor performance?

A: All possible reasons should be evaluated to identify the root cause and to enable corrective action to be taken to prevent recurrence. Repeat test materials are usually available after each distribution, but it is most important to understand the reasons for the failure, document it and carry out corrective actions before repeating a test.

Q: If my laboratory gets incorrect results does the APHA QA Unit take any action?

A: It is the participant’s responsibility to investigate any incorrect results and monitor their own performance over time. The APHA does not police poor performance. However, we will where possible try to help with any queries you may have. Repeat samples are usually available to help with investigations or corrective actions implemented.

Q: What are the reasons for a single unsatisfactory result?

A: There are many reasons, including statistical chance. Potential causes may include analytical errors e.g. sample preparation, calibration or instrument problems, incomplete washing of plates, nucleic acid extraction, interference/matrix effects, sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic kits or reagents, test methods, or non-analytical problems e.g. operator, calculation, transcription, labelling errors, reporting format, units/values, transportation, incorrect storage of samples, failing to add the samples to the test system.

Q: In Microbiology schemes what are the main causes of error?

A: Failure to isolate, identify or misidentify the intended organism(s) may indicate poor handling technique or interpretation of results, inappropriate test methods. Media, antisera or ID kit batches (e.g. API kits) may be outside specified shelf life. Also check that the IQC results were within specification.

Q: How do I submit my results?

A: Go to the Science Services log in page at https://science.vla.gov.uk/proficiencytesting. Enter the login username and password you were given when you joined. From the PT Home page select Enter Results. You can now see the Current Distribution page. If a distribution of any of the schemes you have joined has been issued it will be listed, showing the date issued and the results entry deadline date. Click on View next to the distribution you have results for and enter them in the appropriate boxes. There is a brief description of the format required next to each box. More details of the formats are available by clicking on the Help button at the top of the page. When you have entered all your results click on ‘Save’ at the bottom of the page. If necessary you can edit or enter additional results at any time up until the deadline date has passed. When the deadline date has passed the distribution will move to the Previous Distribution page where it will be read-only. Click on User Manual at the top of the page for more information.

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Q: How do I know if the results I have entered have been saved successfully?

A: If you have entered any results in an incorrect format the system will take you back to the top of the page, when you click Save, where a red warning message will tell you where results have been incorrectly entered. There will be a red exclamation mark next to the box that needs correcting. You will not be able to save the results until all errors have been corrected. Your results will not be saved if you exit the page before clicking on Save. To check if your results have been saved successfully – log out then log back in again. If you can see the results you entered when you click on View then the results have been successfully saved. If you are in any doubt please contact us and we will check the system for you.

Q: Where can I find details of the date my scheme distribution is issued and the results entry deadline date?

A: As soon as we issue a distribution all participants are sent an automated email confirming that their samples have been issued. The issue date and the results entry deadline date will appear on your Current Distributions page on-line. The distribution paperwork that is sent with the samples states the results entry deadline date. If you need more advance notice of when a distribution is going to be issued you can find the month and week of issue on the price-list. A separate table that shows all the distribution dates for each month/week is sent to customers with their contract documents and is also available on request by emailing Vetqas@apha.gsi.gov.uk.

Q: What should we do if we are unable to meet a results entry deadline?

A: Contact us immediately when you realise that you will be unable to meet the deadline and explain why. In most cases we can extend a results entry deadline by a maximum of six days, but you must ask for the extension at least a few days before the original deadline date has expired.

Q: We were unable to meet a results entry deadline date, which has now passed. Is there any way our results can still be included?

A: Unfortunately no. Once the distribution results have been sent to the Test Commentator for evaluation and comments we are unable to add any late results. Even if your results are not included you will still receive the final report.

Q: What does +ve, -ve, IC, S+ve, M+ve and W+ve mean?

A: The meanings of these terms are:

  • +ve = positive
  • -ve = negative
  • IC = inconclusive
  • S+ve = strong positive
  • M+ve = medium positive
  • W+ve = weak positive

Q: How long after the results entry deadline date will the final report become available?

A: When the final tabulated report is available to view on-line an automated email will be sent to the registered email address of each participant in that distribution. This is approximately three weeks after the results entry deadline.

Q: Can I see the results of other participants?

A: All reports will contain the intended results and most reports will show the results of all other participants in that distribution. Participants are only ever referred to by their Lab ID number to maintain confidentiality.

Q: Can I request a repeat set of samples?

A: Repeat samples are available after the final report has been issued (unless in short supply) to allow laboratories to investigate causes of unsatisfactory performance. Normally there will be no charge for the samples but you will be invoiced for any courier costs involved, unless they can be sent with your next scheduled parcel.

Q: How do I make a complaint or appeal against a comment/score on a final report?

A: The Quality Assurance Unit (Vetqas) operates a complaints procedure. Please direct any complaints or appeals to the Quality Assurance Unit (Vetqas) at Vetqas@apha.gsi.gov.uk

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Page last modified: 19 May, 2016