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How do I add Evidence items to my case in LIMS-plus v5?

Add Evidence

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To add evidence to an open case, first click on the Evidence tab (1) and then click on the Add Evidence button (2). The Add Evidence window will appear.

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Selecting a Kit name from the picklist is optional (1).

The Evidence Number (2) may be automatically populated based on the exhibit numbering scheme set up in Lab administration; however, it can be manually overwritten if necessary. Select an Evidence Type from the picklist (3) or create a new Evidence Type by clicking on the plus "+" button to the right of the field and entering a new Evidence Type name and a brief description. The Evidence Description (4) is auto-populated based on the chosen Evidence Type, but can be overwritten or more information can be added.

Enter or select the Receipt Date (5) and, if necessary, enter Other ID information (6) such as a serial number. If the evidence is itemized, select the Parent item (6). If the evidence is containerized, select the Container item (8). In some cases, the Container may also be the Parent.

If the item was taken from a Crime Scene (9) or received from a Source (10), select the appropriate item from the picklists. A new Source can be added by clicking on the plus "+" button next to the Source field. The submitting Agency (11) and Agency Rep (12) can also be entered. To add a new Agency Rep, click on the plus "+" button next to the Agency Rep field.

The Origin (13) of the item, the Barcode Definition (14), the Intended Disposition (15), and the Printer name (16) can be selected. If the item is to be placed on Hold, place a checkmark in the Hold checkbox (17). Change the Number (18) to show the number of Barcode labels to be printed.

The Custom Information Section (19) can be customized to enter additional information. If this section is used, click on the ellipsis on the right side of the text box to open the rich text editor and enter the information..

The evidence item can be mapped to Special Handling Instructions or related to an existing Offense or Request by clicking on the appropriate icon in the lower left-hand corner of the Add Evidence window (20).

The Number (21) shows the number of months for archiving purposes.

When finished, click Save (22) to save the entry and close the window, Save & Add Another to add another evidence item, or Cancel to cancel the evidence item entry.

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Once the evidence item is saved, the New Evidence Entry window appears. It is necessary to enter the initial chain of custody for new evidence items. Select the Evidence item (1) by clicking on the button to the left of the item(s), then enter the From, To, and (optionally) Then To information (2). These values can be an external representative, an internal Laboratory representative, a storage location, and/or an Individual (e.g., owner), but must at least include ONE person. To enter a barcode in the From, To or Then To fields, place the cursor in a yellow box and scan the barcode. Once a value is entered into the Then To field, the transfer form creates a new Then To field/line. Further transfers can continue to be entered until the chain of custody has been resolved to the current location of the evidence. This feature allows users to back-capture information that was not able to be input at the actual time of the transfer.

Depending on the Laboratory's procedures, a barcode scan and/or PIN entry may be forced when a Laboratory representative or an external representative is involved in a transfer. Evidence item barcode scans may also be forced. However, if barcode scans are not forced, the Select Location (barcode) icon (3) can be used to select the Staff Member, Agency Representative, or Storage Location.

The Date/Time will automatically populate with the current date and time. Use the Select Date (calendar) button (4) to change the date and/or time.

The "Via" field (5) is used to indicate the means of delivery of the submission (e.g., USPS or courier), if necessary.

The Notes field (6) is used to add any notes regarding the transaction. If the evidence was submitted via UPS, for example, the UPS tracking number may be recorded in the Notes field.

To print receipts, place a checkmark in the Print Receipts checkbox (7).

Click Save (8) or Save & Exit when finished.

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Once the evidence item has been added, additional tasks (Itemize Evidence, Edit Evidence, Remove Evidence, Add Attachments, and Show COC) can be performed by left-clicking on the item and then selecting the appropriate command from the menu that appears.

Itemize Evidence

In order to account for multiple items in one package, or to take samples from an item, it is necessary to itemize the evidence. When evidence is itemized, child items (or sub-items) are created that become subsets of evidence under the parent item. Each child item will inherit the existing chain of custody of the parent at the moment of itemization since, by the nature of itemizing, the child item is indicated as having originated as part of the parent item. Therefore, the child item retains the same transfer sequences as its parent until the point at which it becomes an evidence item unto itself.

There are several different situations in which evidence may be added, such as during the initial creation of the case or as additional evidence submitted after the case exists in the database. Regardless the steps for adding evidence to a case are the same.

To begin itemizing evidence from an open case, first click on the Evidence tab (if it is not already open). Left-click on the evidence item in the grid list and select Itemize Evidence. The Itemize Evidence window will open.

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If not already present, enter the Evidence Number (1). Select the Evidence Type (2) and, if necessary, enter the Evidence Description (3). Most of the remaining fields are optional.

The Parent field (4) indicates the parent item of the new child item and is automatically populated by the application, but can be changed.

In the Container (5) field, designate whether the child item will be physically contained in the parent item or within another evidence item or system container. For example, if a T-shirt was originally contained within a bag of clothes, will the T-shirt remain packaged within the "One bag of clothing"? Or will it be removed and re-packaged on its own? If it will stay packaged within the parent item, the parent item should be selected from the Container picklist. If the T-shirt will be removed from the bag, the Container field should remain blank (e.g., no item should be chosen from the picklist and the picklist should say "-Select-").

The Origin field (6) gives an indication of the condition or general location of the Evidence item. For example, this field may indicate whether the item is a known sample or a questioned sample, or if it was found in the victim's home or the suspect's home. This picklist is maintained by the Laboratory.

The Intended Disposition field (7) is also maintained by the Laboratory and relates to notifications for disposition of evidence. The method of disposition can be selected based on the Laboratory's disposition procedures. Examples may include Destroy, Return to Owner, Return to Submitting Agency, etc.

The Hold checkbox (8) indicates whether or not this item should be transferred out of the Laboratory. (A checkmark present in the Hold checkbox indicates the item is on Hold status.) Any attempt to transfer an item marked Hold will result in a warning on the transfer screen, indicating the Hold condition.

Special Handling Instructions (9) indicates if the Evidence item requires special handling. Clicking on this icon displays the list of special handling instructions (Biohazard, Flammable, etc.). The list is maintained by the Laboratory.

To relate an Offense to the Evidence item, click on the Offense icon (10). The Offense window will open, from which a previously entered Offense can be selected or a new Offense can be added.

To relate a Request to the Evidence item, click the Request icon (11). The list of existing Requests will appear in the Request window, as well as an Add Request button for adding new Requests.

When finished, click Save (12) or Save & Add Another.

Genealogy vs. Container View

In LIMS-plus v5, evidence is displayed in a "tree view" on the Evidence tab, giving users separate viewing options. Either the genealogical or container relationship for each piece of evidence can be viewed.

The original Evidence item is referred to as the Parent item. When that Parent item is itemized to create one or more sub-items, each new sub-item is referred to as a Child. When the Child is itemized to create one or more sub-items, the new items are referred to as Grand-children, etc. The basis of the Parent/Child relationship is that the Child item will inherit the chain of custody of the Parent item. If a sub-item is created from that Parent, the Child item must have traveled along the same chain of custody as the Parent. The Parent/Child relationship is referred to as Genealogy.

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In the Genealogy view (1), Child items (3) will be indented under the Parent item (2) and Grand-child items (4) will be indented under Child items, etc. If the item icon (5) shows a plus "+" sign (unexpanded) instead of a minus "-" sign (expanded), click the icon to expand it.

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In the Container view (1), Evidence items located physically inside another item are shown indented under that item (2). For example, if a Child item is still physically located inside the same packaging as the Parent item (containerized), it will show indented under the Parent item. If the Child item has been removed from the Parent (de-containerized) with the intention to transfer the Child item separately from the Parent, the Child item will not be indented under the item (3).

The Container relationship is important when transferring items. If the item is containerized, users can transfer the Parent item and the containerized items will transfer automatically. Generally the items are sealed inside a package that contains the barcode for the Parent. If the item is de-containerized, users can transfer the Parent item and the de-containerized items will not transfer with it. The de-containerized items can be transferred separately.

Of note, when an item is a grand-child item, if it is still located within the Parent item, both the Parent and Container fields in the Add or Edit Evidence window are the Parent item. If the grand-child item is located within the container but is no longer contained within the Parent item, the Parent item remains the same Parent, but the actual Container item should be selected from the Container picklist.

If the item icon (4) shows a plus "+" sign (unexpanded) instead of a minus "-" sign (expanded), click the icon to expand it.

Generate an Evidence Item Report

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To generate a report of the evidence items, click the Evidence Reports button. In the Reports window, select the Report Template (1) from the picklist, place a checkmark in the checkbox for each type of report to be generated, and then click the Generate Report button.

Chain of Custody

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Once an evidence item has been added, it can be transferred from location to location and the chain of custody will be tracked. Chain of Custody information can be accessed by left-clicking on the evidence item and selecting Show COC. The second tab of the View Chain of Custody window shows a record of all transactions for the item.

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