Quality control in clinical and forensic toxicology
Quality control (QC) in Clinical and Forensic Toxicology (CT/FT) is critical in achieving accurate and precise results. It is essential that laboratories establish and maintain robust internal QC systems and adopt external QC measures such as participating in national and international Proficiency Testing (PT) schemes. Maintaining QC is continuously challenged by factors such as introducing new advanced methodologies into the laboratory and the ever evolving drug market. Over recent years the trend towards using hyphenated mass spectrometric techniques such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS(/MS)) has proved challenging for both fields. In March 2015, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported that over 450 novel psychoactive substances (NPS) have been reported to them from throughout Europe, this clearly presents both analytical and QC challenges for all laboratories involved.
This session will provide a general overview of QC in CT and FT. It will focus on the issue of within- and between-laboratory variability of results reported when using LC-MS(/MS); providing PT examples where available. Reported reasons for variability will be explored including lack of standardised LC-MS(/MS) methods, lack of certified reference materials and suitable internal standards, lack of standardisation in calibrator and QC material (in-house/commercial), sample matrix issues and variable adherence to method validation guidelines. Ultimately the solution to achieving the most accurate and precise results, in both CT and FT, is to harmonise and standardise laboratory practice.