In going through some police reports earlier this week, we came across a memo from the toxicology lab supervisor at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The supervisor reported in her memo that several blood samples analyzed by a particular lab analyst who worked at the Department of Health were inaccurate. The lab supervisor stated that as of March 21, 2012, she knew of “5 samples that were reported outside of the appropriate reporting range.” These samples were retested and new reports of the results were to be issued. The lab at the Department of Health is going to retest approximately 1,700 samples tested by this particular lab analyst, who was fired for unsatisfactory performance on March 14, 2012.
The toxicology lab at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tests DUI blood samples that are submitted by police agencies from across the state. This episode is reminiscent of an incident reported in late 2009 by the Colorado Springs Metro Crime Lab where the blood alcohol results were found to be incorrect in 167 cases. The Colorado Springs crime lab identified the inaccurate tests were due to an inadequate amount of the internal standard n-propanol being added to the blood sample prior to analysis. After this problem was uncovered, the Colorado Springs Police Department began sending its blood samples to the Colorado Department of Health for testing.
At this point, the cause of the inaccuracies in the results of the blood tests performed by the Colorado Department of Health has not been reported. In our office, we found a handful of tests that were performed by the fired technician that our firm, Liberty Law Center, is handling. We do not know what impact this problem will have on cases throughout the state. We will post additional information when it becomes available.