Why forensics labs need LIMS

On the surface, the needs of forensics labs can appear similar to those required by other labs. For instance, they must track and analyze samples, report results, and record actions related to quality assurance, just like other labs.

Why forensics labs need LIMS

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However, it soon becomes apparent that forensics has certain requirements that are better met by a LIMS that is specifically designed for their business. Forensic labs need four essential components in addition to the features of a typical LIMS.

Case-centric workflow

Traditional LIMS systems place a lot of emphasis on particular samples. Additionally, the labs that handle these samples are aware of the tests that will be necessary before they ever get the samples, and the workflow is then guided by the sample type.

In contrast, everything in forensics is focused on a particular investigation or “case.” The case generates collections of evidence known as “exhibits.” The precise lab units to which packages need to be sent, such as DNA, Firearms, Drugs, Latent Prints, etc., are determined by the specifics of the crime and the sorts of evidence acquired. 

Chain-of-custody authentication

A recorded two-way authentication method must be followed whenever an exhibit is transferred between individuals or places of storage in forensic investigations. The username and password for both the person releasing the evidence and the person receiving it must be entered into the system.

Only the individual involved in the exchange needs to complete this verification if it involves both a person and a storage site. An entire criminal case could be jeopardized if this process falters at any stage.

Interpetation of results

The majority of laboratory tests in non-forensic labs yield conclusive results that, following some sort of quality control, are disclosed to client. The percentage of a controlled substance, purity, weight, blood alcohol content, and so forth are examples of these results.

Why forensics labs need LIMS

Image Credit: LabVantage Solutions

However, many forensic examinations require interpretation. An expert in the relevant field (firearms, DNA, latent prints, etc.) reviews the lab results and their in-depth interpretation of the information is added to the case file as examiner notes and contribute to the conclusions in the final report.

A DNA specialist might say, for instance, “based on X, Y, and Z, this sample is 99.99999% likely to be from suspect John Doe” when interpreting DNA typing data from a lab.  Or, a firearms examiner may determine the distance from which a gun was fired. This analysis is made available to the “client” outside the lab (in this case, the investigators and attorneys). 

Courtroom presentations

The outcomes of the tests performed by forensic labs and associated quality control procedures, together with the qualifications of the analysts, may ultimately need to be produced in court as evidence in a criminal case.

To meet this demand, the laboratory must have a method for promptly gathering the necessary data for subsequent ready-recall and usage. These facts are crucial, both to back up inferences made and to inform the opposing counsel.

Meeting the unique needs of forensics labs

Despite the fact that forensics laboratories undoubtedly benefit from many of the features offered by a typical LIMS, they are better served by a system that goes above and beyond the basics to take into account the particular requirements mentioned above.

These capabilities will have ideally been built and designed by a LIMS provider whose personnel have vast experience working in the forensic industry.

Why forensics labs need LIMS

Image Credit: LabVantage Solutions

About LabVantage Solutions

LabVantage Solutions, Inc. is the leading global laboratory informatics provider. Our industry-leading LIMS platform, including ELN, LES, and SDMS, and world-class services are the result of nearly 40 years of experience in laboratory informatics. LabVantage offers a comprehensive portfolio of products and services that enable companies to innovate faster in the R&D cycle, improve manufactured product quality, achieve accurate recordkeeping and data integrity, and comply with regulatory requirements.

LabVantage is a highly configurable, web-based LIMS platform that powers hundreds of laboratories globally, large and small. Built on a platform that is widely recognized as the best in the industry, LabVantage can support hundreds of concurrent users as well as interface with instruments and other enterprise systems. It is the best choice for industries ranging from pharmaceuticals and consumer goods to molecular diagnostics and bio banking. LabVantage domain experts advise customers on best practices and maximize their ROIs by optimizing LIMS implementation with a rapid and successful deployment.

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Last updated: Apr 5, 2023 at 8:04 AM


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