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Evaluation of QC3: The Automatic Quality Control System on the ABL80 FLEX

Nichols, James H. PhD, DABCC, FACB; Karim, Sadiqa MD; Arabadjief, Melissa MD

Point of Care: The Journal of Near-Patient Testing & Technology: June 2008 - Volume 7 - Issue 2 - p 54-59
doi: 10.1097/POC.0b013e3181727cde
Original Articles

Objective: The ABL80 FLEX (Radiometer-Copenhagen, Denmark) is a portable blood gas analyzer for blood gas (pH, PCO2, PO2), electrolyte (Na, K, Cl), ionized calcium, and hematocrit testing. The analyzer has an onboard quality control system, QC3, that automatically calibrates, performs 3 levels of aqueous quality control, and conducts system checks to establish and verify analyzer performance. This study evaluated the ability of the QC3 system to detect potential sources of error that may affect patient results.

Methodology: External, surrogate quality control samples were analyzed 3 times a day for 30 days to determine the equivalence of external and onboard quality control. In addition, the analyzer was challenged with air bubbles during control and specimen analysis and introduction of hemolyzed specimens.

Results: External, surrogate sample controls failed on 6 occasions when an incorrect temperature was input into the analyzer. These failures were acceptable once proper temperature correction was applied to the external control samples. QC3 appropriately detected air in the sensors, open inlet port, disconnected sensors, and problems with reagent sensor and solution packs. Grossly hemolyzed specimens resulted in no sample carryover or long-term effects on the sensor.

Conclusions: The QC3 internal control system appropriately detected common sources of operator and analyzer failure on the ABL80 FLEX blood gas analyzer. QC3 did a better job at detecting analyzer problems compared with external, surrogate quality control by continuously detecting potential errors automatically.

From the Baystate Health, Springfield, MA.

Reprints: James H. Nichols, PhD, DABCC, FACB, Clinical Chemistry, Baystate Health, 759 Chestnut Street, Springfield, MA 01199 (e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.