Monday, March 19, 2018

Delegation of Authority Log: Tips for Monitors

We may call them “site inspections”, but it’s not the site that’s being inspected when a regulator visits; it’s the Principal Investigator. Though a PI typically delegates study tasks to other staff members, he or she remains solely responsible for the conduct of the study. In fact, the ICH E6(R2) addendum adds two new sections to the international guidance that emphasize PI supervision.

That’s what makes the Delegation of Authority (DoA) log so important and why regulatory inspectors care about it so much. A DoA log serves as evidence that a PI has assigned study tasks only to those staff members with the education, training, and experience to carry them out. If delegates are unqualified to perform their tasks, subject safety could be at risk and it’s highly likely that the study data would be unusable.

Monitors – you can really make a big contribution here. At the outset of the study, you can verify that your PI has made appropriate delegations and the DoA log is complete. You can cross-match the log with training records, CVs, licenses, and source documents and correct any problems as early in the study as possible. Then, throughout the study, you can verify that the DoA log is being maintained.

Without referencing any other site document, monitors can spot two types of DoA log omissions.

(1) Missing Assignments. Are there study tasks to which no one has been delegated? The tasks in a DoA log are often represented by a short code to conserve space. A legend at the end of the log translates the code into its corresponding task. Monitors can compare the legend to the DoA log entries to see if any tasks are omitted.

(2) Gap in Assignments. Due to staff turnover, reassignment, leaves of absence, etc., delegation for a task frequently does not last the duration of the entire study. A column in the DoA log indicates the delegation start and stop date.  Monitors can check to make sure that when the delegation for a task ends for one staff member, it is picked up by another.

Once you’re satisfied the DoA log completely covers all tasks for the duration of the study, you can check to make sure delegates have the necessary qualifications. You’ll want to compare the log with training records, CVs, and medical licenses from the regulatory binder.
  • Has the staffer charged with recording vital signs during a subject visit been formally trained to take blood pressure? Is it documented?
  • Did an incoming pharmacist receive protocol training prior to the start date of his study assignments?
  • Does state law allow a registered nurse to dispense investigational product, or is a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant required? Does the protocol require only an M.D. conduct certain procedures? Does the DoA log show the requirement is being followed?

Study Procedures
Even after the focus of the monitoring visit moves past the DoA log itself, you should revisit the log during source document review.
  • Have any study tasks been conducted by staff members who have not received official delegation to do so?
  • Perhaps the protocol requires a blinded IP dispenser. If so, has the delegated dispenser conducted any other study procedure?

PI Oversight
The PI is responsible for ensuring subject safety, compliance with the regs and the protocol, and control of the investigational product. That obligation cannot be delegated away. PI oversight is critical to a successful study, and the DoA log is where PI oversight starts.

Procedures that are performed by unqualified or ineligible personnel put both study participants and study data at risk. These are the very things regulatory inspectors work to guard against. Good monitors know it and make verifying the DoA log a priority.

A version of this article originally appeared in InSite, the Journal of the Society for Clinical Research Sites.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Study Sites: Show 'Em Your QC!

Sites frequently want to know how they can stand out to Sponsors and CROs to win more studies.
Our advice: Implement internal QC procedures.

Sponsors and CROs we work with consider a tight quality control program to be evidence that a site can be counted on to produce reliable data. It shows that managing quality at your site is a continual process, and doesn’t wait for monitors to arrive. In a risk-based monitoring environment, this is an increasingly compelling attribute.

Where to Start: The Usual Suspects
It makes sense for you to focus your QC efforts on those areas where you’ve historically had the most problems. If the phrase “trend analysis” makes you want to jump through a window -- it's okay -- you can climb back inside. You don't have to do a trend analysis. We've identified 3 areas in which audit findings are common and how you can avoid them.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Love at First "Site": Early Signs of Strong PI Oversight

My Grandpa
When I was a teenager, my grandfather would invite my new boyfriends to run short, pointless errands with him, just so he could watch them drive. He said he could tell a lot about a boy’s character simply by observing his actions behind the wheel. Did he stay under the speed limit? Did he use his signal when he was switching lanes? Did he slow down when children were playing near the road? If so, it was a good sign that the boy was generally a careful and attentive fellow. If not, it was an early indication of reckless tendencies, and I would do well to be on my guard.

What does this have to do with PI oversight?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anticipating Tensions Between Clinical Care and Study Protocol

Protocol Deviations
Protocol trumps practice. This principle seems clear enough, but complying with it is not always as straight-forward as it sounds. Years of practicing medicine has reinforced the way a physician responds to medical situations. But do these responses run counter to the investigational plan? Can a site’s commitment to standard of care affect its ability to meet enrollment targets?

There’s a lot to consider.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Coping with Scoping Your CSV/Part 11 Audit

You know you need a computer systems audit, but that’s literally the extent of what you know.
Has this ever been you?

Yes, you use computers on a daily basis, and you may even use the system that needs to be audited. But you don’t spend your day thinking about where all the system components are located, how services and software are combined, and what Part 11 requirements apply. Terms like “cloud computing” make you feel slightly queasy. You’d rather get a root canal than discuss “distributed processing.” Your expertise is in manufacturing. Or clinical research. Or non-clinical lab operations. And somehow it’s your job to make sure an effective and properly-sized system audit is conducted. Great.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Notes 2 Fix Your Notes 2 File

Q: If Notes to File can be regulatory red flags, should we quit using them?
A: No, and here's why...

Regulatory inspections are often conducted long after the conclusion of the study. When an FDA investigator asks you a question about an anomaly five years after it’s happened, will anyone recall the circumstances well enough to satisfy the regulator’s concerns? You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor if you write NTFs that answer the questions regulators might one day be asking you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

When GCP & GMP Meet

Developing safe and effective drugs requires a coordinated effort across a diverse set of disciplines. This is easier to observe at some points in the process than at others. Once a product is well into human trials, it can be easy to forget that developments on the manufacturing side of the house can affect the clinicians who are conducting the studies.