External quality assessment (EQA) for laboratories participating in the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net)​

The European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net), formerly known as the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS), provides analyses of trends in antimicrobial susceptibility over time and between all EU Member states and two EEA countries (Iceland and Norway). Data are based on routine antimicrobial susceptibility test results collected from a network of clinical laboratories. At present, the pathogens included in the surveillance network are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter spp.

EARS-Net is administrated and coordinated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Since 2000, EARSS/EARS-Net has organised External Quality Assessment (EQA) exercises in antimicrobial susceptibility testing across clinical EARS-Net participating microbiology laboratories in EU/EEA countries.​

The EQA exercises provide important information on performance and comparability of the reported test results between participating laboratories and countries.

The objectives of the EARS-Net EQA exercises are:

  • ​To assess the accuracy of quantitative antimicrobial susceptibility test results reported by participating individual laboratories;
  • ·To evaluate the overall comparability of routinely collected test results between laboratories and EU/EEA countries.

Participation in EQA exercises is useful for production of reliable laboratory results of consistently good quality. In the EARS-Net EQA exercises, laboratories are requested to test the bacterial strains by the methods routinely used and the results should then be submitted through a web tool (password-protected) which upon deadline will generate an evaluation report. Further, all participating laboratories will receive an individual report through the national EQA coordinator together with a national summary report.

​An EU/EEA summary report (anonymised) will be published on the ECDC website.

Since 2021, the EARS-Net EQA exercises have been organised by ECDC in collaboration with DTU Food.

In 2021, the EQA exercises of antimicrobial susceptibility testing will take place in July/August and will cover three isolates each of the two species Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

For further information, please contact Birgitte Helwigh earsnet-eqa@food.dtu.dk

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