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Report of the Korean Association of External Quality Assessment Service on Clinical Mycobacteriology (2017–2018)
J Lab Med Qual Assur 2019;41:82-104
Published online June 30, 2019
© 2019 Korean Association of External Quality Assessment Service.

Soyoun Shin and Seok Ho Hong

Laboratory Medicine Center, The Korean Institute of Tuberculosis, Cheongju, Korea
Correspondence to: Soyoun Shin, The Korean Institute of Tuberculosis, 168-5 Osongsaengmyeong 4-ro, Osong-eup, Heungdeok-gu, Cheongju 28158, Korea, E-mail:
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Rapid and correct diagnosis is essential for national tuberculosis (TB) control. A greater national concern for quality control (QC) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) testing is required to improve the proficiency of domestic clinical laboratories using diverse testing protocols in private and public sectors. External quality assessment (EQA) is an important program accompanying internal QC in clinical TB laboratories. In Korea, the EQA program initiated in 2005 by the Korean Association of External Quality Assessment Service (KEQAS) has made remarkable progress in the harmonization of private and public sectors with governmental support since 2011. An integrative TB EQA program led by the KEQAS with financial support from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides optimized EQA materials for both public and private sectors. In 2017, the KEQAS implemented ‘The Next-Generation Proficiency Testing Program’ equipped with a centralized control system of QC material production and electronic data management, which increased the scale of operating programs from 46 to 54 and recruited 1,700 participants. The TB program was also expanded to provide three times EQA for private laboratories from 2 times a year. For TB EQA programs implemented via the Clinical Microbiology Subcommittee of the KEQAS, survey materials were distributed by sectional orders for tests such as acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smears, AFB culturing and identification, antituberculous drug susceptibility screening, AFB molecular diagnosis, and rapid detection of rifampin and isoniazid resistance. All survey materials were produced by sophisticated manufacturing processes and thoroughly analyzed by various commercial kits, targeted DNA sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing in pre- and post-manufacturing phases for advancement in the EQA program.
Keywords : Tuberculosis, External quality assessement, Proficiency test, Laboratory diagnosis