Columbia Analytical Services

Ethics - The Foundation of Data Reliability

There can be no doubt about it— Ethics is the cornerstone of an effective quality system. Laboratories must provide good reliable data and do it right. Clients should not be concerned about data integrity or data acceptability years down the road. But, despite comprehensive quality control requirements, there have been examples of ethical lapses by laboratories in the past few years that have called into question the validity of their results, giving the entire laboratory community a bad name.

To ensure reliable, accurate data, the CAS Ethics Program has been implemented company-wide to complement our stringent QA program. Comprehensive ethics training explicitly details what is the right thing to do and is mandatory for every employee, including the President/CEO. An 8-hour orientation initiates each employee, while on-going quarterly sessions address specific topics. Ethics has become a part of every day conversation at CAS.

On-going subjects range from specific laboratory issues to trustworthiness and respect, and include all the processes in the laboratory from accounting to bench top analyses. CAS wants to make sure every employee knows what the company expects, particularly when a difficult ethical choice is presented. It also provides tools for employees to evaluate situations where there is not a clear-cut right answer and allows them to develop a scenario to react in the proper way according to CAS’ Core Values.

The Corporate Ethics Officer reports directly to the Board of Directors and is a member of the Ethics Officer Association. CAS is also a member of the Institute for Global Ethics.

In addition to the continuous training program, other key components of the CAS Ethics Program include the Ombudsman Program, the Open Door Policy, detailed data integration SOPs, specialized technical training courses, indepth internal and external audits, and specific detailed inspections of original instrumental data tapes. These programs are supplemented by explicit ethics policies in the employee handbook. CAS requires that each employee review and sign the Commitment to Excellence in Data Quality (Ethics Code of Conduct) on an annual basis. CAS also participates in the ACIL Seal of Excellence program.

The CAS Ethics Program has gained such respect and recognition in the industry that the American Council of Independent Laboratories (ACIL) has asked CAS to design the RFP for the development of an Ethics Program for all their member laboratories. Improving ethics at all laboratories is good for everyone in the laboratory industry.

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