42 CFR § 493.17 - Test categorization.

§ 493.17 Test categorization.

(a) Categorization by criteria. Notices will be published in the Federal Register which list each specific test system, assay, and examination categorized by complexity. Using the seven criteria specified in this paragraph for categorizing tests of moderate or high complexity, each specific laboratory test system, assay, and examination will be graded for level of complexity by assigning scores of 1, 2, or 3 within each criteria. The score of “1” indicates the lowest level of complexity, and the score of “3” indicates the highest level. These scores will be totaled. Test systems, assays or examinations receiving scores of 12 or less will be categorized as moderate complexity, while those receiving scores above 12 will be categorized as high complexity.


A score of “2” will be assigned to a criteria heading when the characteristics for a particular test are intermediate between the descriptions listed for scores of “1” and “3.”

(1) Knowledge -

(i) Score 1.

(A) Minimal scientific and technical knowledge is required to perform the test; and

(B) Knowledge required to perform the test may be obtained through on-the-job instruction.

(ii) Score 3. Specialized scientific and technical knowledge is essential to perform preanalytic, analytic or postanalytic phases of the testing.

(2) Training and experience -

(i) Score 1.

(A) Minimal training is required for preanalytic, analytic and postanalytic phases of the testing process; and

(B) Limited experience is required to perform the test.

(ii) Score 3.

(A) Specialized training is essential to perform the preanalytic, analytic or postanalytic testing process; or

(B) Substantial experience may be necessary for analytic test performance.

(3) Reagents and materials preparation -

(i) Score 1.

(A) Reagents and materials are generally stable and reliable; and

(B) Reagents and materials are prepackaged, or premeasured, or require no special handling, precautions or storage conditions.

(ii) Score 3.

(A) Reagents and materials may be labile and may require special handling to assure reliability; or

(B) Reagents and materials preparation may include manual steps such as gravimetric or volumetric measurements.

(4) Characteristics of operational steps -

(i) Score 1. Operational steps are either automatically executed (such as pipetting, temperature monitoring, or timing of steps), or are easily controlled.

(ii) Score 3. Operational steps in the testing process require close monitoring or control, and may require special specimen preparation, precise temperature control or timing of procedural steps, accurate pipetting, or extensive calculations.

(5) Calibration, quality control, and proficiency testing materials -

(i) Score 1.

(A) Calibration materials are stable and readily available;

(B) Quality control materials are stable and readily available; and

(C) External proficiency testing materials, when available, are stable.

(ii) Score 3.

(A) Calibration materials, if available, may be labile;

(B) Quality control materials may be labile, or not available; or

(C) External proficiency testing materials, if available, may be labile.

(6) Test system troubleshooting and equipment maintenance -

(i) Score 1.

(A) Test system troubleshooting is automatic or self-correcting, or clearly described or requires minimal judgment; and

(B) Equipment maintenance is provided by the manufacturer, is seldom needed, or can easily be performed.

(ii) Score 3.

(A) Troubleshooting is not automatic and requires decision-making and direct intervention to resolve most problems; or

(B) Maintenance requires special knowledge, skills, and abilities.

(7) Interpretation and judgment -

(i) Score 1.

(A) Minimal interpretation and judgment are required to perform preanalytic, analytic and postanalytic processes; and

(B) Resolution of problems requires limited independent interpretation and judgment; and

(ii) Score 3.

(A) Extensive independent interpretation and judgment are required to perform the preanalytic, analytic or postanalytic processes; and

(B) Resolution of problems requires extensive interpretation and judgment.

(b) Revisions to the criteria for categorization. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee, as defined in subpart T of this part, will conduct reviews upon request of HHS and recommend to HHS revisions to the criteria for categorization of tests.

(c) Process for device/test categorization utilizing the scoring system under § 493.17(a). (1)(i) For new commercial test systems, assays, or examinations, the manufacturer, as part of its 510(k) and PMA application to FDA, will submit supporting data for device/test categorization. FDA will determine the complexity category, notify the manufacturers directly, and will simultaneously inform both CMS and CDC of the device/test category. FDA will consult with CDC concerning test categorization in the following three situations:

(A) When categorizing previously uncategorized new technology;

(B) When FDA determines it to be necessary in cases involving a request for a change in categorization; and

(C) If a manufacturer requests review of a categorization decision by FDA in accordance with 21 CFR 10.75.

(ii) Test categorization will be effective as of the notification to the applicant.

(2) For test systems, assays, or examinations not commercially available, a laboratory or professional group may submit a written request for categorization to PHS. These requests will be forwarded to CDC for evaluation; CDC will determine complexity category and notify the applicant, CMS, and FDA of the categorization decision. In the case of request for a change of category or for previously uncategorized new technology, PHS will receive the request application and forward it to CDC for categorization.

(3) A request for recategorization will be accepted for review if it is based on new information not previously submitted in a request for categorization or recategorization by the same applicant and will not be considered more frequently than once per year.

(4) If a laboratory test system, assay or examination does not appear on the lists of tests in the Federal Register notices, it is considered to be a test of high complexity until PHS, upon request, reviews the matter and notifies the applicant of its decision. Test categorization is effective as of the notification to the applicant.

(5) PHS will publish revisions periodically to the list of moderate and high complexity tests in the Federal Register in a notice with opportunity for comment.

[57 FR 7139, Feb. 28, 1992, as amended at 58 FR 5222, Jan. 19, 1993]