Background: Results from external quality assessment schemes (EQASs) can provide information about accuracy and comparability of different measurement methods, provided that the material used in these schemes behave identical to patient samples among the different methods, a characteristic also known as commutability. The aim of this study was to assess the commutability of different matrices for the material used in an EQAS for tobramycin.
Methods: Proficiency testing material (PTM) and patient samples containing tobramycin were prepared, collected, pooled, and distributed to participating laboratories for analysis. Low, medium, and high tobramycin concentrations in liquid human, liquid bovine and lyophilized bovine serum were tested in this study. The patient serum results of every laboratory were plotted against each of the other laboratories, and the distances of the PTM results to the patient serum regression line were calculated. For comparison, these distances were divided by the average within-laboratory standard deviation (SDwl) of the results reported in the official EQAS for tobramycin, resulting in a relative residual. The commutability decision limit was set at 3 SDwl.
Results: With 10 laboratories participating in this study, 45 laboratory couples were formed. For human serum, only one relative residual for high concentrations of tobramycin was found outside the commutability decision limit. For liquid and lyophilized bovine sera, the number of relative residuals outside the decision limit was between 15 and 18 for low, medium, and high tobramycin concentrations.
Conclusions: The PTM used for tobramycin is preferably prepared with human serum.