Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) Is the Leading External Quality Assurance Predictor of ISO15189 Compliance for Pathology Laboratories

Brett A. Lidbury, Gus Koerbin, Alice M. Richardson, Tony Badrick

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Pathology results are central to modern medical practice, informing diagnosis and patient management. To ensure high standards from pathology laboratories, regulators require compliance with international and local standards. In Australia, the monitoring and regulation of medical laboratories are achieved by conformance to ISO15189-National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council standards, as assessed by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), and an external quality assurance (EQA) assessment via the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Program (RCPAQAP). While effective individually, integration of data collected by NATA and EQA testing promises advantages for the early detection of technical or management problems in the laboratory, and enhanced ongoing quality assessment. Random forest (RF) machine learning (ML) previously identified gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) as a leading predictor of NATA compliance condition reporting. In addition to further RF investigations, this study also deployed single decision trees and support vector machines (SVM) models that included creatinine, electrolytes and liver function test (LFT) EQA results. Across all analyses, GGT was consistently the top-ranked predictor variable, validating previous observations from Australian laboratories. SVM revealed broad patterns of predictive EQA marker interactions with NATA outcomes, and the distribution of GGT relative deviation suggested patterns by which to identify other strong EQA predictors of NATA outcomes. An integrated model of pathology quality assessment was successfully developed, via the prediction of NATA outcomes by EQA results. GGT consistently ranked as the best predictor variable, identified by combining recursive partitioning and SVM ML strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number692
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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