Laboratory assessment by combined z score values in proficiency tests: experience gained through the European Union proficiency tests for pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables

Medina-Pastor, P.; Mezcua, M.; Rodríguez-Torreblanca, C.; Fernández-Alba, A. R.
August 2010
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Aug2010, Vol. 397 Issue 7, p3061
Academic Journal
The obligation for accredited laboratories to participate in proficiency tests under ISO 17025, performing multiresidue methods (MRMs) for pesticide residues, involves the reporting of a large number of individual z scores making the evaluation of the overall performance of the laboratories difficult. It entails, time and again, the need for ways to summarise the laboratory’s overall assessment into a unique combined index. In addition, the need for ways to continually evaluate the performance of the laboratory over the years is equally acknowledged. For these reasons, following 14 years of the European Union Reference Laboratory for Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables (EUPT-FV), useful formulas have been designed to globally evaluate the assessment of the participating laboratories. The aim is to achieve a formula which is easy to understand, which can be applied and which fits the purposes of long-term evaluation detecting positive and negative trends. Moreover, consideration is needed for a fair compensation of bad results in MRM, taking into account the large number of compounds that are covered. It is therefore important to be aware of the difficulties in getting satisfactory values from a wide range of compounds. This work presents an evaluation of the main well-established combined z score formulas together with those new ones developed here which have been applied to the European proficiency test results (EUPTs) over the years. Previous formulas such as the rescaled sum of z score (RSZ), the sum squared of z score (SSZ) and the relative laboratory performance (RLP) are compared with the newer ones: the sum of weighted z scores (SWZ) and the sum of squared z scores (SZ2). By means of formula comparisons, conclusions on the advantages, drawbacks and the most fit-for-purpose approach are achieved.


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