Quantifying the Impact of Operator Error in Pipetting


Mechanical action hand-held pipettes are commonly used for transfer of microliter liquid quantities in a variety of analytical laboratories including pharmaceutical quality control, medical testing, forensic analysis, and food safety laboratories. Accurate and precise analytical results from these laboratories are necessary to protect consumers, instill confidence, and support global trade.

Regular calibration of laboratory equipment, including pipettes, is commonly accepted practice in regulated analytical laboratories, but these instrument calibrations are often performed by the OEM or third party services. Such calibrations do ensure that the pipette itself is operating properly, but fail to assess the competence of the pipette operator. In the case of air-displacement mechanical action pipettes, operators are a significant source of pipetting error.

This poster summarizes the significant types of pipetting error using a photometric pipette calibration method.  These errors have been observed among “trained and qualified” pipette operators in regulated laboratories, and presents data showing their accuracy and precision performance in routine pipetting.

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