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Implementation of a Blind Quality Control Program in a Forensic Laboratory

Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences
Published: 2019
Primary Author: Callan Hund
Secondary Authors: “Maddisen Neuman, Alicia Rairden, Preshious Rearden, Peter Stout”

A blind quality control (QC) program was successfully developed and implemented in the Toxicology, Seized Drugs, Firearms, Latent Prints (Processing and Comparison), Forensic Biology, and Multimedia (Digital and Audio/Video) sections at the Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC). The program was put into practice based on recommendations set forth in the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report and is conducted in addition to accreditation required annual proficiency tests. The blind QC program allows HFSC to test its entire quality management system and provides a real‐time assessment of the laboratory’s proficiency. To ensure the blind QC cases mimicked real casework, the workflow for each forensic discipline and their evidence submission processes were assessed prior to implementation. Samples are created and submitted by the HFSC Quality Division to whom the expected answer is known. Results from 2015 to 2018 show that of the 973 blind samples submitted, 901 were completed, and only 51 were discovered by analysts as being blind QC cases. Implementation data suggests that this type of program can be employed at other forensic laboratories.

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