Proficiency Testing of Clinical Laboratories for Bacteriology in the Philippines, 2009–2015

Melisa Mondoy, Julius Matt Rapanut, Mark Philip Bugayong, Razaele Aguinaldo, Rafael Navarro, Kristine Jeanne Yap, Ma. Theresa Kapawan, Daryl Joy Almonia, Grace Esparar, Alexander Sadiasa, Noel Macalalad, Lydia Sombrero, Maria Rosario Capeding, Socorro Lupisan


Introduction. SThe National External Quality Assessment Scheme (NEQAS) has been established by the Department of Health–Philippines (DOH) to provide DOH-approved external quality assessment programs, including the Proficiency Test (PT) for Bacteriology to clinical laboratories. The PT for Bacteriology aims to monitor and evaluate laboratory capabilities in the identification of clinically important pathogens through proficiency testing. Since then, participation in the NEQAS has been a requirement for clinical laboratories to obtain a license to operate from the DOH–Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau (HFSRB).

Objective. The objective of this report is to summarize and examine the results of the PT for Bacteriology from 2009 to 2015 and the performances of participating clinical laboratories throughout the Philippines.

Methodology. The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine National Reference Laboratory (RITM-NRL) conducted orientation seminars between 2008 and 2009 to introduce clinical laboratories to the NEQAS. Laboratories submitted their accomplished enrolment forms to RITM–NRL and paid the fees to enroll in the PT. Participating laboratories were required to identify three analytes and perform antimicrobial susceptibility test (AST) on one assigned analyte.

Results. A total of 468 laboratories participated over the seven-year period. The number of participating laboratories obtaining a passing score of 80% and above had significantly increased from 2009 to 2015. Out of the 144 laboratories consistently enrolled over the seven-year period, the proportion of participants with scores of 80% and above had increased. Of the 468 participating laboratories throughout 2009 to 2015, 33.3% were good performers; 6.6% were fair performers; and 60.0% were poor performers.

Conclusion. The increasing number of participating laboratories obtaining passing scores over the years suggests overall improvement of the performance of clinical laboratories in bacteriology. Corrective actions are still needed to address the situation regarding the poor performing laboratories. The assessments done in 2008 and 2013 found that poorly performing laboratories lack trained personnel, resources, and implementation of quality assurance procedures for bacteriological testing.


laboratory proficiency testing, bacterial identification, antibiotic susceptibility testing

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