The top official at the Massachusetts laboratory that mishandled drug samples has resigned, and another lab executive has been fired, state law enforcement and health authorities announced in the latest development in an unfolding scandal, reports the Boston Globe. The lab officials failed to detect obvious signs of problems with a chemist's work involving drug samples from criminal cases, state executives said. They compounded that error by making the “poor decision” to wait six months to alert the state's public health commissioner once problems were identified, said Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of health and human services.
The chemist, who worked at the lab from 2003 until she quit in March, handled 60,000 samples, potentially imperiling 34,000 criminal cases. Officials have not publicly named the chemist, but authorities familiar with the investigation identified her as Annie Dookhan. Problems with the chemist were discovered in June 2011, according to state officials, but lab directors did not bring those issues to the attention of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach until December. Auerbach's office then launched an investigation.