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Reticulocyte haemoglobin content: a pilot UK NEQAS Haematology assessment

Reticulocyte haemoglobin content is an automated cell counting parameter that can deliver extra information with clinical utility in the investigation of iron deficiency. Here, Yvonne Hector, Barbara De la Salle and NHS colleagues in Plymouth report on a recent pilot external quality assessment exercise undertaken by UK NEQAS Haematology.

Reticulocyte haemoglobin content (RHC) is considered a reliable, early biomarker of iron deficiency, which
also demonstrates a response to iron therapy and is recommended for the diagnosis of iron deficiency in chronic kidney disease. Reticulocyte haemoglobin content parameters are offered on all major automated haematology platforms, although they vary in their methodologies. 

Currently, there is no external quality assessment (EQA) for RHC in the UK, restricting the wider clinical application of this parameter. The UK National External Quality Assessment Scheme (UK NEQAS) for Haematology has completed a pilot study for RHC EQA, the purpose of the initial studies being to demonstrate that the assay material used gave clinically acceptable and comparable results between different instrument types (Table 1) and was stable for a sufficiently long period of time and in transit to be suitable for use in EQA.

Table 1. Reticulocyte haemoglobin parameters offered by different analyser platforms.

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