Fresh Ideas

It’s always interesting to me how you can “look” at something for so long you no longer “see” something right in front of you! Take advertising for instance…we can all recognize the fast food chains advertising signs, but if asked whether or not one is hanging in your patient waiting room, you might be surprised that you’d walked by it so many times you just don’t see it!

I had the privilege to do a walk-through in a small, but efficient and organized, critical access hospital laboratory in the past few days. As we looked in their storeroom, we were ushered past a row of neat, clean, personally labeled lab coats—obviously one for each staff member. And, on a shelf just near them were a couple of neat, clean, and organized rows of tennis shoes…what?? Lab shoes!

I’ve seen this in other countries where laboratorians have “street shoes” and “lab shoes”—often because they wear sandals in tropical climates or boots in frosty climates—and they work in labs where the instance of public health contaminates tend to be very high. Hence the safety of not taking home any lab detritus on your shoes.

I’ve not seen this safety practice in this country, or at least not often—which makes me wonder if I have just “walked by” this best practice in laboratory safety so many times that I just don’t see it as often as perhaps it is being implemented. My “kudos” to the laboratory staff who pointed theirs out for me, they are certainly showcasing a best practice—and I’m reminded that perhaps it never hurts to look more closely at things we take for granted in our laboratories! If your lab has a best practice in laboratory lab coat/shoe/personal wear safety, I’d love to hear about it; please email me at and I’ll be happy to share it with your colleagues in my travels both at home, and globally.




Beverly Sumwalt, MA, DLM, CLS, MT(ASCP) is an ASCP Global Outreach Volunteer Consultant.

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