Update from the EFI External Proficiency Testing Committee

External Proficiency Testing (EPT) is a mandatory part of the EFI accreditation process for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (H&I) laboratories. The EFI EPT Committee (EPTC) was established in 2003 with its major goal to develop and harmonise External Proficiency Testing for H&I affiliated with EFI. In this    update I will first introduce changes in the members of the EPTC in 2023 and secondly, I will present a short review of the mission, activities, and the composition in the EPTC.

Changes in 2023 in the EPTC
On behalf of the EPTC I would like to express my gratitude and acknowledgement to Anastasiya Mihaylova from Bulgaria for fruitful and highly qualified work as a member in the EPTC for nine years. Anastasiya will be missed in the EPTC as a colleague as well as a dear friend. At the same time, I will introduce and give a warm welcome to Fatma Oguz from Turkey as our new representative for region 8. Fatma Oguz is the director of the Balkan EPT program for HLA typing and a very experienced EPT provider. The EPTC looks forward to our collaboration in the coming years.

Mission of the EPTC
The EFI EPTC reflects activities covered by EFI Standards. The EPTC:

  1. Collects information on external proficiency testing schemes operational in H & I laboratories affiliated to EFI and works to ensure their homogeneity and comparability;
  2. Is responsible for defining and revising EPT Standards for Laboratories
  3. Makes recommendations concerning the organisation of EPT schemes and provides help and advice to new EPT schemes when requested.
  4. Defines and revises the Standards for Providers of EPT schemes in concordance with national and international standards.
  5. Identifies regions lacking EPT schemes and develops strategies to serve these areas.

Additionally, the vision of the EPTC is to strengthen the interaction with other parts of EFI including other EFI committees, commissioners, inspectors, and laboratories. 

EPT Regional Coordinators
The members of the EFI EPTC act as Regional EPT Coordinators. These Regional EPT Coordinators liaise with their respective Regional EFI Commissioners to ensure conformance with the EPT Standards. EPT Coordinators shall advise and support EFI accredited laboratories, those laboratories actively seeking EFI accreditation and EPT organisers to meet these standards.
The EPTC encourages everybody with interests in EPT to contact the regional coordinators in the EPTC. Names of regional coordinators are found on the EFI EPTC website (https://efi-web.org/committees/ept-committee).

Current projects
The EPTC has a register of EPT programs with a list of EPT programs for EFI affiliated laboratories. The list is updated at regular time intervals on the EFI EPTC website. 

The EFI Standards comprise a separate Section D (External Proficiency Testing) containing the EPT Standards for H&I laboratories. These Standards are reviewed at least annually by the EPTC for updates. In addition, the EPTC has formulated the Standards for EPT Providers which are also updated at regular time intervals and can also be found on EFI EPTC website. 

The EPTC aids with assistance and education for developing EPT programs. A special focus lies on the regions lacking EPT schemes which are mandatory for EFI accreditation. In such exceptional cases labs may organize inter-labo-ratory exchanges of samples to check if they perform H&I diagnostics in a comparable manner.

The EPTC has created a Manual for inter-laboratory exchanges, which can be downloaded on the EFI EPTC website.

Composition of the EPTC
The EPTC has been constituted with approximately one member from each EFI region, i.e. 9 members in total. We aspire to balance the number of providers and non-providers in the EPTC to maximize our experiences and fruitful collaboration.

Meetings of the EPTC
The EPTC meets at least annually in conjunction with the EFI conference. Additionally, we have in the recent years had 2-3 virtual ad hoc meetings per year. 

On befall of the EFI EPT Committee,

Helle Bruunsgaard
Chair EFI External Proficiency Testing Committee