Background: The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs (RCPAQAP) is a world leader in the provision of external quality assurance (EQA) for pathology laboratories. The development and delivery of new programmes are designed to meet the evolving needs of our participants and pathology practice. A cytopathology technical programme was established in 2018 to provide proficiency testing in routine cytopreparatory techniques. The cytopathology technical pilot focused on standard operating procedures and laboratory performance during rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE). The exercise aimed to assess the diagnostic adequacy and provide technical recommendations on each of the whole slide images from four fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) samples of the thyroid in a setting of ROSE. Methods: Four whole slide imaging cases, each comprising one Diff-QuikTM stained preparation of an FNAB of the thyroid, were provided to all laboratories currently enrolled in the RCPAQAP Cytopathology diagnostic programmes. Each scanned image represented one slide from the first pass collected by a radiologist under ultrasound guidance. Participating laboratories were encouraged to distribute the exercise to individual staff members who attend ROSE procedures. A laboratory practice questionnaire was also conducted. Results: There were a total of 186 submissions received for the assessment across the four virtual cases provided. Although the assessment of on-site adequacy by participants showed high concordance across some of the cases, there was variation in the initial diagnostic evaluation and technical recommendation. Conclusions: ROSE has been adopted as a standard procedure in many laboratories worldwide. A peer comparison of participating laboratories in an EQA exercise has highlighted ROSE as susceptible to variation across standard operating procedures, the provision of diagnostic adequacy, diagnostic feedback to the attending clinician, and technical recommendation.

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