Annie Dookhan, a former Massachusetts chemist is making national headlines for allegedly “dry-labbing” as many as 60,000 drug samples used in 34,000 criminal cases over the past eight to nine years. The count of current inmates affected is now over 1,100.
“Dry-labbing” is a term used in the laboratory community for when a person claims to follow proper protocols for research and testing, but in reality, pulled the results out of thin air without doing any research or testing. For those of us not in the laboratory community, it is easier to think of dry-labbing as lying, deceiving, fabricating, and now “Dookhan-ing.”
If this isn’t sickening enough, Dookhan’s CV shows she received a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts and testified to this feat in a number of cases; however, the University of Massachusetts has no record of Doohkan completing even one master’s class, nevermind obtaining a master’s degree in chemistry. A master’s degree wasn’t even a job requirement.
The lying allegations continue on and on: she forged colleague’s signatures, disobeyed orders by continuously accessing an evidence database and giving information to law enforcement officials, left samples out on her bench with the top open, had a work space filled with numerous vials open to cross-contamination, often analyzed more samples in a week than co-workers did in a month, accessed the labs numerous times while suspended and more.
Every test ever done by the lab since Dookhan was hired in 2003 should now be called into question as Dookhan was in charge of quality control equipment. This means co-workers could have gotten false test results without even knowing it.
Her colleagues were admittedly suspicious years ago which begs the questions, why did it take this long before the red flag they were tossing around was actually put up?
Responding to a police Lieutenant’s recommendation that she should get a lawyer, she allegedly stated she was involved in a long divorce from her husband, didn’t have money and didn’t know any lawyers.” In an August interview with investigators she purportedly said, “I screwed up big time. I messed up bad. It’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.”
“Screwed up big time” doesn’t even begin to cover it. The lab has since been closed and Dookhan is supposedly facing criminal charges although the investigation is ongoing.
Since news of this catastrophe broke, more and more allegations have come out relating to Annie Dookhan’s “screw up.” Hopefully some good will come of this: higher standards for laboratories so that proper justice can be served.
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