Updated March 9, 2011
The Interlaboratory Comparison Program in Nongynecologic Cytopathology was started by the College of American Pathologists in 1997. Currently, more than 2,000 laboratories subscribe to the program. NGC is designed as an opportunity for participants to assess their screening and interpretive skills and learn of new developments in smear preparation, evaluation, and quality improvement. The intent of the program is for participants to differentiate the correct diagnosis from the materials and information provided.
Within 20 minutes of receipt of individual laboratory responses, the College faxes back the correct answers with benchmarking data and a profile of the slides so that participants have time to review the material before returning the slides to the College. A brief description of the diagnostic entity with pertinent references and specific comments on the particular case/slide, including immunohistochemical or flow cytometric findings, may also be provided. Benchmarking data are additionally provided for the specific diagnosis to allow intralaboratory and interlaboratory comparisons. Statistics are generated for each diagnostic category to determine how participating laboratories perform with different types of cases as well as for a given slide.
Each participant can earn a maximum of 25 credits for completion of an entire year (4 glass slide mailings x 5 credits plus 1 online offering x 5 credits = 25 credits). Pathologists can claim up to 25 CME (Category 1) credits/hours and Cytotechnologists can earn 25 CE credits/hours. Cytotechnologists may apply the credits/hours from the NGC program toward the required educational activities for the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC) Continuing Education Credit Program (CECC) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Registry (BOR) Certification Maintenance Program (CMP).
The NGC program is strictly an educational program and is not graded. The laboratory receives five glass slides quarterly, each with a patient’s clinical history and pertinent clinical information. These slides contain material from fine-needle aspirations (i.e., breast, lung, pancreas, etc.) and exfoliative smears (i.e., body fluid, urine, etc.) representing a variety of conditions.
Response forms are included with the slides for the laboratory and two individual participants-pathologists or cytotechnologists. For institutions with additional pathologists and/or cytotechnologists interested in participating in the NGC program, the NGC1 option is available. The five online cases may be accessed and completed for five CME/CE credits by all staff in a participating institution independent of the number of NGC1 options ordered.
NGC also includes instructions on accessing five online virtual microscopy cases, which use digital image technology to simulate the use of a microscope. Online cases may consist of rare or unusual cases. Participants are able to manipulate the images by scanning across the slide, moving between planes (where appropriate), and changing the magnification. Online cases also contain additional educational materials, including case write-up, ancillary studies, and educational questions. Participants will receive immediate feedback as they select interpretations from a master list and answer the educational questions.
To order the NGC program, call 800-323-4040 option 1# to speak with a Customer Contact Center representative.