Analytical performance evaluation of a high-volume hematology laboratory utilizing sigma metrics as standard of excellence

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Introduction: Around two-thirds of important clinical decisions about the management of patients are based on laboratory test results. Clinical laboratories are required to adopt quality control (QC) measures to ensure provision of accurate and precise results. Six sigma is a statistical tool, which provides opportunity to assess performance at the highest level of excellence. The purpose of this study was to assess performance of our hematological parameters on sigma scale in order to identify gaps and hence areas of improvement in patient care.Methods: Twelve analytes included in the study were hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (Hct), red blood cell count (RBC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), red cell distribution width (RDW), total leukocyte count (TLC) with percentages of neutrophils (Neutr%) and lymphocytes (Lymph %), platelet count (Plt), mean platelet volume (MPV), prothrombin time (PT), and fibrinogen (Fbg). Internal quality control data and external quality assurance survey results were utilized for the calculation of sigma metrics for each analyte.Results: Acceptable sigma value of ≥3 was obtained for the majority of the analytes included in the analysis. MCV, Plt, and Fbg achieved value of <3 for level 1 (low abnormal) control. PT performed poorly on both level 1 and 2 controls with sigma value of <3.CONCLUSIONS: Despite acceptable conventional QC tools, application of sigma metrics can identify analytical deficits and hence prospects for the improvement in clinical laboratories.


International Journal of Laboratory Hematology