1. Involve your local hospital laboratory Your local hospital laboratory can provide advice on a range of issues including the purchase of devices, training, interpretation of results, troubleshooting, quality control, and health and safety.

2. Choosing the right equipment There are a variety of analysers available for the measurement of cholesterol and you must use one that is CE marked under the In-vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices directive (ask the manufacturer). Ideally the analyser will have had an independent evaluation and you should contact the Device Evaluation Service for the latest information about reports and advice on purchasing (tel 020 7972 8181).

3. Management Many people will be involved in the provision and management of a cholesterol testing service. It is vital that a service co-ordinator is identified who will have overall responsibility for all aspects of the service.

4. Training Training must be provided for all staff who will be using the cholesterol testing analyser. Only staff whose training and competence has been established and recorded should be permitted to carry out cholesterol testing.

5. Standard operating procedures Standard operating procedures must include the instructions for use.

6. Health and safety Be aware of the potential hazards associated with the handling and disposal of blood samples, sharps and reagents from the analyser.

7. Quality assurance Encompasses all the steps taken to ensure that measurements are reliable and includes collecting a good quality blood sample, analysing it correctly and dealing with the result appropriately.

8. Internal quality control samples should be run on the analyser to ensure that it is working correctly and that the results are reliable

9. External quality assessment samples should be run periodically to ensure that results are comparable to those from other cholesterol analysers.

10. Maintenance In order that equipment continues to perform accurately you must perform maintenance as directed by the manufacturer.

11. Record keeping Records are essential and must include date, test strip/reagent, lot number, test result, operator identity and patient identity.

12. Results Results should be reviewed by appropriately qualified and trained staff with particular reference to the patient’s history and previous results.

Source : Division of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

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