Monday, July 25, 2011

Covering one's backside - forensics edition

You run a crime lab forensics institute that specializes in assisting the state in gathering and analyzing evidence. On a logbook you see that a reagent used for blood testing was used for years after its expiration date. The notes indicating the expiration date aren't initialed and look like they were added after the original entries in the book. You determine that notes were written by the analyst. You speak with the analyst and ask him (or her) to initial the notes regarding the expiration date.

Voila! Job well done.

No need to request corrective action. No need to alert anyone that your lab techs were using chemicals that had passed their expiration dates. No need to inform prosecutors that there might be a problem with the analysis your lab performed. No need to inform defense attorneys that the tests might not be valid.

You draft a memo and attach it to the back of the logbook.

No e-mails to track down and preserve. No Corrective Action Requests subject to Open Records requests. No memo in a file that some pesky auditor might find.

Good work, Dr. Stacy McDonald. You've shown that you are more concerned about an analyst initializing notes about expired reagents than the fact that your lab was using expired reagents while conducting forensic tests that would be used by the state at trial.

Hmm. Dr. Stacy McDonald. That name seems familiar for some reason.

03 06 2009 Reagent Log Notebook Memo on Back Cover

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