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Forensic Science Communications January 2008 – Volume 10 – Number 1
Standards and Guidelines

Scientific Working Group on
Bloodstain Pattern Analysis:
Guidelines for a Quality Assurance Program in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Scientific Working Group on Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (SWGSTAIN)

Objective | Introduction | Statement of Purpose | Definitions | Quality Assurance Program | Goals and Objectives | Personnel and Qualifications | Standard Operating Procedures | Case Files | Assessments | Corrective Action | Safety | Facilities | Evidence Control | Equipment and Reagents | Validation | Audits | References | Glossary


The intent of this document is to provide bloodstain pattern analysts general guidance for the establishment of a quality assurance program in bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) to ensure the reliability of all BPA work products. SWGSTAIN expects to develop additional documents to provide further guidance in select topic areas addressed in this summary treatise.


The Scientific Working Group on Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (SWGSTAIN) comprises BPA experts from North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. SWGSTAIN provides a professional forum in which practitioners in BPA and related fields can discuss and evaluate methods, techniques, protocols, quality assurance, education, and research. SWGSTAIN’s ultimate goal is to use these professional exchanges to address substantive and operational issues within the field of BPA and to work to build consensus-based, or “best practice,” guidelines for the enhancement of the discipline of BPA.

Statement of Purpose

The following are guidelines for an effective quality assurance program as it relates to BPA.


As used by SWGSTAIN, the following terms convey the meanings specified:

Must—Done without exception

Should—Expected to be done

Recommended—Appropriate but not mandatory

Quality Assurance Program

The agency must establish and maintain a documented quality system that is appropriate to BPA. The quality manual should address, but is not limited to:

  1. Goals and objectives.
  2. Personnel and qualifications.
  3. Standard operating procedures.
  4. Case files.
  5. Assessments.
  6. Corrective action.
  7. Safety.
  8. Facilities.
  9. Evidence control.
  10. Equipment and reagents.
  11. Validation.
  12. Audits.
  13. References.

1. Goals and Objectives

The agency should address the goals and objectives of the quality assurance plan for the BPA program.

2. Personnel and Qualifications

The agency must have written specifications defining the minimum education, training, and experience required of an individual in order to perform BPA (see SWGSTAIN education and training documents).

3. Standard Operating Procedures

The agency must have written and approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding BPA. Items that should be included are:

3.1. Title.

3.2. Scope.

3.3. Equipment, materials, and reagents.

3.4. Procedures.

3.5. Report generation, review, and approval.

3.6. Calculations.

3.7. Limitations.

3.8. Safety.

3.9. References

3.10. SOP approval.

4. Case Files

The agency must have written procedures for the content and maintenance of BPA case files. 

5. Assessments

The agency should have in place a documented program of ongoing skill assessment of the bloodstain pattern analyst.

5.1. It is recommended that each bloodstain pattern analyst participate in case reanalysis or proficiency testing annually.

5.2. It is recommended that the agency have a documented program that annually assesses the testimony of each bloodstain pattern analyst.

6. Corrective Action

The agency should establish written procedures to be followed for corrective actions addressing such issues as administrative, analytical, interpretive, or skill-assessment errors.

7. Safety

The agency should maintain a documented health and safety program. This should include health and safety practices consistent with standards for the occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens and occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals used in BPA.

8. Facilities

The agency must have a documented program that ensures that the facility is secure from unauthorized access and maintained in a condition that minimizes the risk of contamination of evidence.

9. Evidence Control

The agency must have a documented evidence control system to ensure the integrity of physical evidence.

10. Equipment and Reagents

10.1. The agency should have a documented program to monitor the maintenance and calibration of equipment and/or instrumentation that affect(s) the accuracy and validity of the BPA.

10.2. The agency should have in place documented procedures for testing the reagents used in casework to ensure their functionality.

11. Validation

The agency should have written procedures that require that all new techniques be validated prior to their use in BPA applications.

12. Audits

The agency must have in place a documented program for the periodic review of BPA case files.

13. References

It is recommended that the agency list and maintain all reference material relating to the development of the quality assurance program.


Agency—Any entity—such as an individual, a law enforcement department, a private company, or a government or private laboratory—that provides BPA as one of its functions.

Assessment—A method used to evaluate an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in BPA.

Case reanalysis—The reexamination, by another bloodstain pattern analyst, of all data and conclusions generated in a bloodstain pattern case.