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Chapter 14.3 : Laboratory Records
“If it hasn't been recorded, it hasn't been performed.” This sentence summarizes the absolute requirement for detailed and accurate record retention for all aspects of the clinical microbiology laboratory. Records serve at least four purposes. (i) They document what has transpired without recourse to memory (they provide a paper or electronic audit trail), (ii) they serve as a point of reference for developing the facts regarding any incident, (iii) they assist in the recognition of trends and the resolution of problems, and (iv) they establish the laboratory's credibility. The standards for record keeping and the length of time records must be maintained are established by the agencies presented in Appendix 14.3-1 . Federal guidelines should be considered minimum standards and are superseded by the standards established by the states or other certification agencies.