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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Introduction to Quality Control. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Random and Systematic Errors, continued

Random error affects the precision of a test (reproducibility). Some things that could cause random errors are
  • bubbles in reagents or reagent lines;
  • instrument instability;
  • temperature variations; and
  • Operator variability, such as variation in pipetting.
Systematic error causes inaccurate results that are consistently low or high. Some things that could cause systematic errors include
  • change in reagent lot;
  • change in calibration;
  • assigning the wrong calibrator values;
  • reagents that were improperly prepared or are deteriorating;
  • pipettor maintenance error (not adjusted correctly or misaligned); and/or
  • a deteriorating photometric light source in the instrument.