Quality Assurance – How to Apply Scientific Principles to Troubleshooting

My work called for presenters on a wide range of topics, both work and non work related. I put my hand up to deliver a talk on something drawn from my background as a scientist. After some thinking I came up with “Quality Assurance – How to Apply Scientific Principles to Troubleshooting”. I thought that would be a good topic as that’s the main thing I do in my current role and I did a lot of it in my old roles. I thought I would be able to impart knowledge to help others examine and solve their problems. Project mangers might find it useful. Software developers might find it useful. Athletes might find it useful.

Feedback from this session was positive.

Quality Assurance – How to apply scientific principles

Policy vs Standard Operating Proceedure vs Operator Instruction

What follows will form part of a post tentatively titled “GMP Technical Writing”. The larger post will incorporate aspects of Writing Technical Reports and The Need for Documentation and detail the hierarchy of documents within a Quality Management System, what information goes where and how to conduct buisiness process mapping. I’m tossing up on whether to present this as a series of posts or as some sort of presentation style document (pdf or Powerpoint).

A Policy A SOP An OI
What’s What  Course of action adopted due to one or more considerations such as legal or regulatory requirements

Contains regulatory, corporate or scientific policies, rules or principles.  Explains why these are considerations.

generally affect multiple SOPs.  If affects one SOP, should include detail in SOP after Additional Information section.

  • If information >1 page and affects >1 SOP
  • or >3 pages and affects 1 SOP, write a separate policy document
  • Who, what, when where and why.
  • A series of stages describing the sequence of tasks performed
  • Describes processes lasting an extended time (hours, days, weeks).
  • Tends to encompass multiple users.
  • Written with the overall goal of achieving the outcome via a number of specified outcomes.

Each stage in a SOP comprises a number of action or steps. Length dictates their placement in a SOP or an OI:

  • ≤4 steps -SOP content.
  • >4 steps – place in an OI.
  • How to do something.
  • Step wise instructions.
  • Takes place in the now.
  • Tends to involve single user.
  • Written to achieve a specified outcome.
Tables  Informational
  • Overview only – Section/Description.
  • Stage/Description.
Step/Action
Flow Charts  Informational

Must not exceed 1 page.

Used a process overview.

  • If ≥5 sections, a flow chart can be used.
  • If <5 sections, a Section/Description table use used.
  • Must not exceed 1 page.
  • Suitable only where instructions are straightforward.
  • Must not exceed 1 page.
Naming Convention  N/A Use present continuous. eg. Sampling of Water for Injection
!!”ing” in the title.
Use the present simple. Daily Check of Equipment Calibration
!!If the proposed title includes “How to…” the it’s likely an OI.
In General
  • Section headings do not include full stops
  • For all nouns and verbs in document titles, use capitals. Does not apply to section headings.

-Title: Using The Autoclave
-Section Heading: Load the autoclave

  • Be consistent in the use of bullets and font.
  • Be consistent with capitalisation and use of punctuation.
  • Read your work out loud. If you stumble, the reader will too.
  • Plan. Talk to SME’s. Before you begin writing, identify the information type(s).
  • Chunk the information 7±2
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Autoclave Validation

The linked to pdf contains Autoclave Validation training I have presented in person and via teleconference.

The purpose of the training is as follows:

  • What is an autoclave
  • Why we use autoclaves
  • Identify the two main types used by us
  • Detail how to validate an autoclave (including loading patterns)
  • What to look for in an audit

It is important to note that this training was developed in 2008.  Some references may be out of date.  The overall thinking and methodology remains valid.

Autoclave Validation – training (pdf).

Additional Autoclave Validation Documentation

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Microbiology For Non Microbiolgists

I have experience developing training and presenting it to small to medium sized groups. Part of this process involves determining the way in which to present the training. Once such way to use some form of visuals in support of speaking. For my Microbiology for Non Microbiologists course, I used Microsoft Powerpoint.

Duration of Session:

  • 60 minutes x1, followed by 10 minutes x1 (display style)
  • Number of attendees: 5-10

Continue reading

Antibiotic Assays

A brief history of the antibiotic assay

The quantitative use of zones of agar made inhibitory to the growth of one microorganisms by diffusing substances produced by another organism was in use at least as early as 1885 (Analytical Microbiology, Kavanagh, 1963). The first official assays of penicillin were carried out in 1943. Publication of the theoretical aspects involved was published by Cooper and Woodman in 1946 in Pathological Bacteriology. The antibiotic assay used by pharmaceutical companies is primarily the agar plate diffusion assay. Some products that are a mixture of polymers may have a specific monograph stating that they must be assayed by a turbidimetric method. Such an example is Gramicidin. Continue reading

Writing Technical Reports

What is technical writing?

Technical writing is a style of writing used when preparing protocols, reports, investigations and other laboratory documentation.

What are some examples of technical documents?

In general, any regulated manufacturing site will use the following technical documents: validation documents, reports, Standard (Operating) Procedures, SOP’s and Work/Operator Instructions (OI’s), standard forms and overriding policies and a Site Quality Manual all within the framework of a Quality Management System (QMS), Continue reading

The Importance of Trending

What is Trending?

Trending, when used in a pharmaceutical microbiology laboratory, is the examination of long term data in order to examine if a controlled process is moving away from the state of control. Trending can also be used to determine the stability of a product’s efficacy by examining the results of testing over time. Stability trends are important to support expiry dates and storage conditions. Continue reading

Viable Environmental Monitoring

What Is Viable Environmental Monitoring (VEM)?

Viable environmental monitoring is the monitoring of factors within a production environment that may have an impact on the quality of goods produced within the environment. Typically this is any physical object than could support or introduce microbial contamination to a manufacturing environment: air, surfaces (as in introduced equipment), liquids, people.

Why Is VEM Needed?

Microbial monitoring is used to determine if the controlled environmental being monitored is within an adequate state of microbiological control (i.e whether or not the area meets the specifications as described in the site quality manual, product registration dossiers and associated documents) . It may also be used to confirm that cleaning and sanitation is effective (and being conducted as specified) and that personnel within the production environment are not carrying an unacceptable bioload or inadvertently causing contamination. This is required information as it ensures that products produced are unadulterated and are fit for their intended purpose. Continue reading

What Makes An Objectionable Organism?

What is a specified organism?

A specified organism is one that according to the pharmacopeia, cannot be present in a sample (usually 10g). These microbes are specified either as they may be an indicator organism (a microbe where its presence may indicate a pathogenic micobe could be present) or they may actually pose product safety concerns (whether by reducing the efficacy or posing a risk to the end user). Continue reading