Scottish Trace Element & Micronutrient Reference Laboratory

Scotland's specialised laboratory for trace elements and vitamins in health and disease

Quality Issues

The Scottish Trace Element and Micronutrient Diagnostic and Research Laboratory strives to maintain a high quality service in terms of ....

  • issuing results promptly
  • ensuring analytical quality
  • providing a clinically relevant and helpful interpretation
  • responding to comments and complaints with the aim of striving for improvement wherever possible.

The Laboratory currently has full accreditation status with Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd. The activities of STEMDRL in future will be subject to regular accreditation visits by UKAS (UK Accreditation Service).

We participate in all appropriate external quality assessment schemes where they are available.

The performance of our service is overseen and reviewed by the National Services Division of NHS Scotland. The analytical aspects of the service are overseen by the Supra-Regional Assay Service for UK Trace Element Laboratories.

If you have any comments or complaints please contact us.

 

Reference Values

Reference intervals used in the Laboratory have been determined in a variety of populations - healthy laboratory staff or drawn from the literature. Where possible age- and gender-adjusted reference intervals are used. Reference intervals for infants and children are often not available.

Turnaround Times

Turnaround times are calculated from the time of receipt of sample to the time that result is available to be emailed, posted or accessed electronically by SCIStore. Target turnaround times are > 90% within 6 working days for trace element analytes with the exception of mercury, arsenic, nickel, cobalt, chromium and cadmium in urine which are > 90% within 10 working days, and mercury and arsenic in hair which are > 90% within 15 working days. For vitamins target turnaround times are > 90% within 10 working days. In practice, our actual turnaround times are usually far better than this and so the average turnaround times for individual analytes are recorded in the tables found on each analyte's webpage. On occasions, clinical cases of toxic trace element poisonings require a faster turnaround time to optimise patient management. In such circumstances, please phone and we can usually arrange for our analytical runs to be reorganised to expedite analysis.

Analytical Goals

Analytical goals are employed as quality indicators by STEMDRL to ensure that the results produced by the laboratory are fit for their intended use. The analytical goals stated within this document are for intermediate precision expressed as a coefficient of variation (CV). Acceptable and desirable analytical goals have been calculated from biological variation data when available. Desirable CV = 0.5CVI and acceptable CV = 0.75 CVI, where CVI is the intraindividual variation. Desirable CV is based on more stringent criteria and may not always be obtainable using current analytical techniques. In instances where biological variation data is not available, goals have been based on STEMDRL state-of-the-art which relates to the analytical performance technically achievable by the laboratory.

Measurement Uncertainty

Measurement uncertainty (MU) is derived from the intermediate precision of internal quality control material. MU is calculated using at least thirty data points collected over a period of six months. When less than thirty data points have been measured in six months, a longer period of time is used. The reported expanded measurement uncertainty, U, is based on a standard uncertainty multiplied by a coverage factor of k=2, providing a coverage probability of approximately 95%. The uncertainty evaluation has been carried out in accordance with UKAS requirements.
 

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