Integrated Data Management:
Chemistry and Data Management Working Together
From sample planning to reporting, the cooperative efforts of Quality Assurance Chemists and Data Managers provide a better, more efficient work product for the client.
From the moment the decision to collect samples is made, QA Chemists and Data Managers begin coordinating efforts. QA Chemists help clients define analytical procedures, from laboratory selection to constituents of concern; from bottleware requirements to matrix definitions; from preservatives to holding times. These analytical decisions that can only be made with the assistance of highly trained QA Chemists, and making them BEFORE the first sample is collected, are paramount.
Sample collection is where the rubber meets the road. The bottles have been selected and preserved, the laboratories have been chosen, and the constituents are waiting to be found, or not. QA Chemists maintain technical oversight of sample collection activities by orchestrating the symphony of moving parts – Error Strike though and initial? What’s that say? Who ordered this? Where did this bottle go? QA Chemists help answer all those questions during the chaos. By acknowledging and accepting the changeability of the sample collection environment, QA Chemists and Data Managers work together to help guide all parties through the turmoil.
Sample Receipt & Analysis
If your samples arrive broken or above temperature requirements, the field work was for naught. Even if the samples arrive in perfect condition, the maze of analytical laboratory procedures might well leave your samples as the Minotaur at the center. QA Chemists are on the case from the moment the samples arrive at the laboratory right through to data reporting. Established laboratory relationships and the most knowledgeable chemistry group in the industry ensure that no sample goes unlogged, no analysis goes un-run, and no form goes uncompleted. As QA Chemists wrestle with questions about aliquots and dilution factors, Data Managers are keeping tabs. When did the laboratory receive the samples? How long has it been? What’s the turn-around-time? The laboratory is HOW LATE?!? With a custom-built analytical tracking system, Data Managers can answer all those questions and proactively identify discrepancies.
Now it’s time for Data Managers to take the lead. Electronic data deliverables, (EDDs), allow Data Managers to import complex laboratory data into a standardized, centralized, data management system, and then to provide the data to clients in a usable, readable format. While Data Managers are looking at the bits and bytes of the laboratory data, QA Chemists are diving into the technical results. Do we need a Level II or a Level IV hardcopy package? Does the client require paper, or will electronic suffice? Is there a legal hold on this project or can we recycle the paper when we are complete?
Using EDDs, custom reports and years of experience, Data Managers ensure data correctness and completeness ensuring the data are ready for review. Following completeness checks and correctness review, Data Managers use custom software to apply data qualification and reason codes to laboratory data for EDD reportable elements. These elements include holding times, blank contamination, surrogate recovery review, spike accuracy and duplicate precision. Each data step brings data closer to the ideal of quality and reliability. QA Chemists can then comb through every number, every qualifier, every hand annotation, and every comment. Data are tagged, qualified, described, and explained. Finally, all that description is entered into the data management system, ready for data export and reporting.
The environmental sample lifecycle is complex. Finally, with multiple vendors, multiple laboratories, multiple samplers and multiple regulatory agencies, keeping tabs on data from start to finish can be compared to herding cats. The partnership of data management and chemistry allows clients to use the data as they apply to their specific needs and lets Environmental Standards do the herding.