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Laboratory Orientation and Testing of Body Fluids and Tissues for Forensic Analysts

Use of Basic Equipment

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The QAS require the following:

  • The laboratory must use equipment that is suitable for the methods employed.
  • The laboratory must have a documented program for calibration of equipment and instruments.
  • When available and appropriate, standards traceable to national or international standards must be used in the calibration of equipment.
  • Where traceability to a national standard of measurement is not applicable, the laboratory must provide satisfactory evidence of correlation of results.
  • Each instrument requiring calibration must have the frequency of calibration documented and have such documentation retained in accordance with applicable federal or state law.
  • The laboratory must have a documented program to ensure that instruments and equipment are properly maintained.
  • New instruments and equipment, or instruments and equipment that have undergone repair or maintenance, must be calibrated before being used in casework analysis.
  • Written records or logs must be maintained for maintenance service performed on instruments and equipment and such documentation must be retained in accordance with applicable federal or state law.

*Note: The laboratory's documentation must include the identification of all critical equipment and instruments that require calibration. Critical equipment or instruments are those requiring calibration prior to use and periodically thereafter when the accurate calibration of that instrument directly affects the results of the analysis. Calibration is the set of operations that establish, under specified conditions, the relationship between values indicated by a measuring instrument or measuring system or values represented by a material and the corresponding known values of a measurement. The laboratory's documentation must include the schedules for and records of all calibrations for the critical equipment and instruments. Standard 10.3.1 does not apply to instruments and equipment that cannot be calibrated by laboratory personnel (e.g., fluorescence-based detection instruments). Traceability is the property of a result of a measurement whereby it can be related to appropriate standards, generally international or national standards, through an unbroken chain of comparisons.

Most newly hired DNA analysts have a general familiarity with the principles and operation of basic laboratory equipment. However, it is recommended that an overview, practical sessions, and trainer oversight be provided before trainees use the equipment.

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