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Chapter 2 : Quality Assurance and Quality Control in Clinical and Molecular Virology
The clinical virology laboratory provides important and often critical information to the health care provider in order to support the diagnosis or monitoring of viral disease for the patient. Testing results will often serve as a guide for optimal treatment of the disease, contribute to infection control and prevention of a hospitalized patient or offer insight into the prognosis for the disease. Therefore, the quality of the virology laboratory testing has to be highly accurate and offered in a timely fashion in order to achieve optimal patient management. A well-structured and ongoing quality assurance (QA) program will provide the framework for maintaining accuracy in all phases of the testing process. These phases include the preanalytical, analytical, and postanalytical stages of the testing. However, no process is perfect, and every QA program should include a surveillance component that continuously identifies and corrects any weakness in the system. This corrective action should also be followed by preventative action in order to eliminate weaknesses and improve the entire QA program.