Complete Calibrator Swaps

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Calibration of Clinical Laboratory Analytes. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Complete Calibrator Swaps

Accidental swapping of the calibrator or reagent material tends to cause calibration failure flags by the instrument, but visualizing the calibration data can help determine the cause of the failure.
A Simple Calibrator Material Swap Mistake:
  • If the assay requires multiple calibrators, one could accidentally mix up two calibrator levels with each other (see Image 1). This scenario would likely lead to a failed calibration curve analysis before QC or patient samples were analyzed. But identifying this mistake is still important when troubleshooting.
An Entire Calibrator Material Swap Mistake:
  • If a complete swap of calibrator material occurs (in which calibrators used for one assay are mistakenly used for a different assay), there will likely be very little, or zero, of the analyte present. This scenario tends to create bizarre calibration curve analyses that never pass calibration curve criteria (see Image 2).

Apparent swap of calibrator levels 3 and 4.
Complete calibrator swap with the expected calibrator response in a red dashed line.