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  PAP/NGC Program Review

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cap today

August 2003
Special Section

Q & A

David C. Wilbur, MD

Q. Our hospital administrator has been using the NGCprogram performance results of our laboratory, individual pathologists, and individual cytotechnologists to assess job performance and competency and for credentialing. Is this appropriate?

A. It is not appropriate. The slides in the NGC program are submitted by the members of the Nongynecologic Working Group and are reviewed by other committee members before they begin circulating. However, these slides have not undergone the rigorous statistical validation that would be required for them to be used as a tool for measuring competency. This is in contradistinction to the slides in the CAP Pap program, which are extensively circulated and statistically validated before entering graded sets and which can be used to assess competency. Because the NGC slides are not rigorously validated, it would be inappropriate for any individual's or laboratory's performance on the NGC slides to be used as a measure of job performance or as a criterion for credentialing. Moreover, the NGC program sends out very unusual and diagnostically challenging cases that have good educational value but would never be expected to validate or be diagnosed by a large majority of general pathologists because of their complexity or rarity. The NGC slides should be used only for educational and internal quality assurance purposes.

Jonathan H. Hughes, MD, PhD
Member, Cytopathology Committee
Laboratory Medicine Consultants, Ltd.
Las Vegas