TNI Guidance to Laboratories and PT Providers During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Date Posted: 4-10-2020

We hope all of you are well and safe.   The COVID -19 pandemic has impacted the daily lives of everyone and every business, especially since laboratories are considered essential services.  In light of this impact, TNI has reached out to the NELAP Accreditation Council and the Proficiency Testing Executive Committee to establish initial guidance for laboratories and proficiency testing providers.  TNI recognizes that each Accreditation Body (AB) may implement different approaches to meet their specific needs. Most states have moved the majority of their staff to teleworking arrangements. Please be aware many are working from home or may not be in the office, and responses to your queries may be delayed.  In some states the staff is in the office on a minimal basis to get required signatures or hard copy papers when necessary.  All states have agreed that they are working with laboratories on a case by case basis.  And, at this time laboratories should reach out to their individual state AB with issues they have regarding proficiency testing (PT).

On-Site Laboratory Assessments

As the possibility of stay at home orders look to be extended past June several states have discussed options to meet the requirements for onsite assessments.  At this time states expressed that they are within the required time of 2.5 years for onsites.  All States are taking every effort ensuring the safety of their staff and laboratory staff to continue routine assessments as the conditions allow.  Non-governmental ABs are already using remote assessments to make every effort to continue routine assessments.

In cases where the AB program is located in the Department of Health, a couple of state programs have been asked to have staff assist with COVID-19 response operations.

Renewal Applications

Most states indicated that renewals are being processed as normal.  Labs that have operation disruptions due to COVID-19 are being handled on a case by case basis by their AB. This is similar for Non-Govermental ABs.

Change Requests (new methods /analytes) & New Laboratories

ABs are still taking change requests and new applications. Most changes can be done by paperwork assessments.

There are obvious time restrictions on these if travel is required.

Proficiency Testing

There have been no expressed concerns about a limitation of PT availability.

If at all possible, given the definitions of essential businesses and various stay at home orders, please continue to analyze and report your PT results within the confines of the reporting dates given by your PT Provider.  

If you are unable to report your PT results due to a laboratory closure or staffing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact your AB as soon as possible to obtain guidance.  

Proficiency Testing Providers

If at all possible, given the definitions of essential businesses and various stay at home orders, please continue to conduct PT studies and report final results. 

If you are unable to conduct and report PT studies due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please notify your customers, all NELAP ABs and your ISO/IEC 17043 AB.