Investigation of the Status Quo of Veterinary Point-of-Care Laboratories in Switzerland: Availability, Application, and Quality Management.
The extent to which Swiss veterinary practitioners follow the guidelines for quality assurance of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology (ASVCP) for point-of-care (POC) testing is unknown. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the availability, application, and quality management of POC analyzers in Swiss veterinary practices/clinics. For this purpose, we created an online questionnaire on laboratory equipment, quality management, and biosafety, which all members of the Society of Swiss Veterinarians (GST) were invited to complete. In total, 192 clinics/practices participated, of which 69% had automated POC analyzers, mainly for clinical chemistry (99%) and/or hematology (86%). Sample analyses and equipment maintenance were mostly performed by veterinary technicians (81% and 68%, respectively). Reference intervals were adopted from manufacturers (80%) or literature (17%). The results showed that most participants perform basic internal quality control (chemistry: 75%; hematology: 86%), and many use at least two levels of quality control material (47%-48%). Controls are mostly run once a month (chemistry: 36%; hematology: 35%) or ≤4 times/year (36% and 25%). Only three clinics/practices reported participation in an external quality assessment program; comparative testing was more common (chemistry: 42%; hematology: 52%). Only one-quarter of the participants stated that they make use of the data generated through internal and external quality control measures. In conclusion, POC analyzers are widely available in Swiss veterinary clinics/practices, and internal quality control is performed to some extent. However, quality assessment and management and biosafety awareness and measures need to be improved, ideally with the support of clinical pathologists.