The Ontario Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program's testing model and the results of early surveys of cytology laboratories have been previously described. To test consistency and accuracy, the same slides from one survey were recirculated to the same laboratory in the next survey. There was no statistical difference in either the accuracy or consistency in reporting by the various categories of personnel. Analysis of the data by category of diagnosis showed the reporting of "no abnormal cells" and "benign atypia" to be slightly more accurate and "moderate dysplasia" and "severe dysplasia" to be slightly less accurate than the reporting in other categories. Consistency in reporting appeared to be slightly less accurate in severe dysplasia than in the other categories. The analysis, which includes the results from all licensed cytology laboratories in Ontario, provides evidence that, in the reporting of cervical cytologic material, it is feasible to differentiate among the various categories within the spectrum of squamous epithelial abnormalities with a general level of accuracy and consistency that, although satisfactory, is not yet ideal.
There are few formally documented proficiency testing programs for cytology laboratories, and those that have been documented are not entirely comparable in format. The first of three papers documenting a mandatory universal proficiency testing program for cytology laboratories in the Province of Ontario, Canada, presents data on the structure and function of the participating laboratories (including a comparison of the data for 1974 and 1980) and on the organization of the testing model (including selection of terminology, construction and use of the survey and assessment of responses). In 1980, of the 463 medical laboratories in Ontario, 91 of 222 hospital laboratories and 65 of 216 nonhospital laboratories were licensed in cytology. In that year, the 156 cytology laboratories processed 1.48 million cytology specimens, 92% of which were gynecologic. Hospital laboratories processed 87.5% of the nongynecologic cytology specimens and 30% of the gynecologic cytology specimens. These proportions have been virtually constant for several years. Between 1974 and 1980, there was a trend in Ontario to fewer laboratories processing less than 5,000 cytology specimens per annum. Subsequent papers in this series describe the results of the initial surveys in this program and a precision study to evaluate the consistency of reporting by individual laboratories.
The results of the initial surveys in the cytology proficiency testing of the medical laboratories in the Province of Ontario, Canada, showed a high correlation between the opinions of the testing committee and the participants in the categories of "no abnormal cells," "metaplasia" and forms of "benign atypia." The proportion of times that slides were tested in the categories of dysplasia and malignancy in the surveys increased from 38% by the end of survey 3 to 46% by the end of survey 5. A progressive improvement in the diagnostic accuracy was demonstrated in the categories of malignancy and severe dysplasia while results were more variable in the categories of moderate and mild dysplasia. Several educational activities were initiated following survey 3, including development and circulation of demonstration sets of marked glass slides for repeated circulation to participants as well as copies of a slide/tape presentation describing the program and specific case material.