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The RCPAQAP Microbiology discipline has been developed and evolved under the guidance of the RCPAQAP Microbiology Advisory Committee. Within this discipline, a Molecular Infectious Diseases sub-committee further guides the development of microbiology molecular diagnostics.

The last two decades have seen enormous change in Medical Microbiology. ‘New’ organisms (Helicobacter pylori, HIV, Hepatitis C virus) have been discovered and characterised. ‘New’ infectious diseases (AIDS, Lyme disease and Legionnaires’ disease) have been described. ‘Old’ infections (tuberculosis, malaria, and pertussis) have re-emerged as major threats and have become increasingly resistant to previously effective antibiotics (MRSA, Streptococcus pneumoniae, VRE).

Over this time, advances in technology and molecular medicine (automation, polymerase chain reaction) have added greatly to the Microbiologist’s diagnostic armamentarium. At the same time, Microbiology remains very much a ‘hands-on’ discipline. In many ways, it is an art as much as a science, and one in which an individual pathologist’s experience, judgment and interpretive skills are pivotal.

Clinical aspects involve control of outbreaks of infectious disease and dealing with the problems of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Genetics is an integral part of pathology with implications in disease pathogenesis and progression, identification of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, as well as targeted treatments. The RCPAQAP Molecular Genetics discipline offers diagnostic and technical proficiency testing programs for inherited diseases, oncology, molecular haematology and rare genetic disorders (as sample exchanges).

In addition, the RCPAQAP Molecular Genetics discipline partners with major external quality assurance providers to provide customers with as many options for molecular genetics testing as is currently available, this includes the:

  • European Molecular Genetics Quality Network (EMQN)

  • Cystic Fibrosis European Network (CF Network)

  • UK National External Quality Assessment Scheme for Leucocyte Immunophenotyping (UK NEQAS LI)

  • Quality Control for Molecular Diagnostics (QCMD) 

  • Genomics Quality Assessment (GenQA)

  • Australasian Society of Diagnostic Genomics (ASDG)

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The RCPAQAP has a comprehensive range of EQA programs covering a variety of diagnostic tests used in infectious serological screening, surveillance and immunity evaluation.

Key features of the program include:

  • One sample dispatch per year with the exception of HIV Point-of-Care

  • Comprehensive assessment of over 50 analytes;

  • Detection of antibodies, antigens;

  • Result entry via the website;

  • Trend analysis with a minimum of 2 surveys/year (for most analytes)

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The RCPAQAP Transfusion discipline covers all routine tests performed in a pre-transfusion testing laboratory including clinical decision making on given scenarios. The Individual Assessment program is designed to assist laboratory supervisors to maintain and assess individual staff competencies while also enabling individual staff to meet EQA participation requirements as stipulated by the guidelines. The Foetal Maternal Haemorrhage Estimation program is for assessing laboratories on methods used in estimating foetal red cells in maternal samples.

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