College of American Pathologists

  Frequently Asked Questions


Updated September 8, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between Surveys and EXCEL?
The Surveys program is designed for hospital laboratories and reference laboratories. The EXCEL program is geared toward smaller hospitals and physician office laboratories. By enrolling in the program that is intended for your institution size, you will be compared with laboratories that are most similar to yours.

Can I order simultaneously from Surveys and EXCEL?
Yes, use the order form received with your catalog to order Surveys, EXCEL, and Quality Indicator products.

Can I fax in my proficiency testing renewal forms?
Yes, proficiency testing order renewal forms (Surveys/EXCEL, Q-TRACKS, Q-PROBES, LMIP) may be faxed to 847-832-8168.

If an analyte is offered only in certain mailings, do we have to order the product for the entire year?
If an analyte is offered in some but not all mailings, the laboratory may order the Survey by individual mailing. Price may be adjusted per mailing.

Submitting Results

What should I do if I have not received my proficiency testing kit?
You can track shipping status by using the CAPTRAKer program online, by calling the Customer Contact Center at 800-323-4040 option 1 by faxing your inquiry to 847-832-8166, or by emailing Customer Contact Center hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm Central Time.

How long do I have to report my proficiency testing?
Result due dates are printed at the top of your result form.

Can I use correction fluid to amend mistakes on my results form?
Yes. Correction fluid is accepted, but please be sure the fluid is dry before rewriting your responses.

What happens if I forget to return the result forms?
Failure to return PT results for a testing event is considered unsatisfactory performance and will result in a score of “0.”

What should I do if the results were submitted too late for evaluation?
The evaluation will indicate code 41 (“Results for this kit were received past the evaluation cut-off date”). The laboratory will receive a Participant Summary Report that can be used to perform a self-evaluation (see the report’s Evaluation Criteria section).

If I fax my results, do I also have to mail them?
No, it is not necessary to mail them. Most result forms can be faxed to the CAP; however, check your kit instructions for detailed information.

How do I know if the CAP received my faxed results?
Please retain your fax machine transmission confirmation. This serves as your receipt. Information is also available online through e-LAB Solutions. Due to processing requirements it may take up to two days to post the receipt status of faxed or mailed forms on the website.

Can I submit proficiency testing (PT) results via the Internet?
Yes, your laboratory can submit results through e-LAB Solutions. Your laboratory must be opted in and you must be logged in to view this information. To access Result Form Data Entry on the CAP website, follow the instructions detailed in the e-LAB Solutions section and click on the appropriate Result Forms link.

Submitting Results for Multiple Kits

If my laboratory receives multiple kits for a given Survey, does it matter on which kit I report my results?
If you order multiple kits of the same product, each kit will contain a unique result form with an identifier in the top right corner after the CAP number. For example, if your laboratory has two blood gas instruments and you order two kits of the Blood Gas Survey AQ, one of the result forms will be labeled “SEQ# 01” while the other will be labeled “SEQ# 02.” The CAP will report results to CMS from the result form designated with “SEQ# 01.” You may contact the CAP to request that your reporting default to “SEQ#01”.


Can I access my evaluation online?
Yes, you can view evaluations online via e-LAB Solutions. Note: your laboratory must be opted in and you must be logged in to view this information. To request access to laboratory data, follow the instructions detailed on the e-LAB Solutions page of this guide.

I noticed an error on our evaluation. Will the CAP correct our evaluation?
If the error is made by the CAP (eg, scanning error), please contact the Customer Contact Center at 800-323-4040 option 1, then 3. If the error is due to your transcription error or failure to complete the result form appropriately, your entry cannot be reevaluated.

Some of the Evaluations do not have a CMS Performance Summary page. Why is that?
Only evaluations that contain analytes regulated for proficiency testing will include a CMS Performance Summary page. Note: waived test results do not appear on the CMS Performance Summary page.

An Important Note about Proficiency Testing and Referral
Per CLIA ‘88, a laboratory must test the PT specimens it receives in the same manner that it tests patient specimens. The specimens must be tested:

  • With the laboratory’s regular workload
  • Using the laboratory’s routine methods
  • The same number of times that it routinely tests patient specimens

However, laboratories must not communicate results, share proficiency testing specimens, or refer proficiency testing specimens to a laboratory with a different CLIA number for tests not on the laboratory’s menu even if referral for testing is routinely performed for patient specimens.