(a) Types of services offered by laboratories. In parasitology there are two types of laboratories for proficiency testing purposes -
(1) Those that determine the presence or absence of parasites by direct observation (wet mount) and/or pinworm preparations and, if necessary, refer specimens to another laboratory appropriately certified in the subspecialty of parasitology for identification;
(2) Those that identify parasites using concentration preparations and/or permanent stains.
(b) Program content and frequency of challenge. To be approved for proficiency testing in parasitology, a program must provide a minimum of five samples per testing event. There must be at least three testing events at approximately equal intervals per year. The samples may be provided through mailed shipments or, at HHS's option, may be provided to HHS or its designee for on-site testing. An annual program must include samples that contain parasites that are commonly encountered in the United States as well as those recently introduced into the United States. Other important emerging pathogens (as determined by HHS) and parasites commonly occurring in patient specimens must be included periodically in the program.
(1) An approved program must, before each calendar year furnish HHS with a description of samples that it plans to include in its annual program no later than six months before each calendar year. Samples must include both formalinized specimens and PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) fixed specimens as well as blood smears, as appropriate for a particular parasite and stage of the parasite. The majority of samples must contain protozoa or helminths or a combination of parasites. Some samples must be devoid of parasites.
(2) An approved program may vary over time. As an example, the types of parasites that might be included in an approved program over time are -
(3) For laboratories specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the program must provide at least five samples per testing event that include challenges which contain parasites and challenges that are devoid of parasites.
(1) The program must determine the reportable parasites. It may elect to establish a minimum number of parasites to be identified in samples before they are reported. Parasites found in rare numbers by referee laboratories are not considered in scoring a laboratory's performance; such findings are neutral. To determine the accuracy of a laboratory's response, the program must compare the laboratory's response with the response that reflects agreement of either 80 percent of ten or more referee laboratories or 80 percent or more of all participating laboratories.
(2) To evaluate a laboratory's response for a particular sample, the program must determine a laboratory's type of service in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section. A laboratory must determine the presence or absence of a parasite(s) or concentrate and identify the parasites to the same extent it performs these procedures on patient specimens.
(3) Since laboratories may incorrectly report the presence of parasites in addition to the correctly identified principal parasite(s), the grading system must deduct credit for these additional erroneous parasites reported and not found in rare numbers by the program's referencing process. Therefore, the total number of correct responses submitted by the laboratory divided by the number of parasites present plus the number of incorrect parasites reported by the laboratory must be multiplied by 100 to establish a score for each sample in each testing event. For example, if a sample contained one principal parasite and the laboratory reported it correctly but reported the presence of an additional parasite, which was not present, the sample grade would be
1/(1 + 1) × 100 = 50 percent.
(4) The criterion for acceptable performance for qualitative parasitology examinations is presence or absence of a parasite(s).
(5) The score for parasitology is the number of correct responses divided by the number of samples to be tested, multiplied by 100.