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Study Notes: Identification of Samples and Standard Methods

You have been assigned to perform an analysis on a particular sample. How do you identify your sample amongst the others that are waiting for testing at SimuLab?

Often a sample will arrive labelled or marked with the customer’s number or text description. However the primary means of identifying the sample throughout its time in the laboratory is via the information on the laboratory’s own label. The label should show a code or number that uniquely identifies the sample (known at SimuLab as the SL number). Other information, such as registration date/time or requested tests, may also appear.

Labels can be computer-generated along with work sheets for the recording of results and ultimately also customer reports.

Computer based laboratory information management systems enable the status or progress of a sample to be rapidly accessed at any time. By entering the sample number into the system, it is possible to tell, for instance, what tests have been completed or what results are waiting for approval. A computer with two sample containers sitting alongside displaying labels with SL numbers.

Laboratories can use test methods from a variety of sources depending on the nature of the work to be done. To name a few, methods can be drawn from Australian and international standards, industry standards, scientific literature or textbooks and customer-supplied procedures. For routine work, however, a laboratory will generally have prepared its own set of methods written to suit its individual requirements and based on properly validated procedures, including those sources just mentioned and those developed ‘in-house’.

Laboratory methods will be accessible and readily available from a methods manual or possibly as separate documents at specific areas around the laboratory.

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