Internationally Safe

With the serious and concerning news about international contagious disease, it’s always appropriate to remind ourselves of safety, both personal and protective. What laboratory professional has not donned the gown, the mask, the gloves…in an effort to protect ourselves, and also protect the patients we serve? We all have…but we all have also occasionally been cavalier about it.

In these times of viruses and antibiotic-resistant strains of microbes—and who knows what iterations of the above are in the “evolutionary muck” of the future—we stand in the cautionary shadow of the devastation they can cause. The invention of the microscope only served to give us a view of our un-seeable enemies, and they are countless.

I travel extensively, internationally and within the USA, and the risks of contagion are all around. It helps to keep yourself personally prepared by encouraging a robust immune system, eating/sleeping and hydrating well, and staying as healthy as is possible—but as we all know that is not always enough. It will also serve us well, as laboratory professionals, to both practice and teach personal protection in compromised situations. When at work, it’s obvious…but when in someone else’s lab, or hospital, or clinic, or even railway station, we must be diligent and alert to the unseen dangers of contagious disease contamination. Laboratory scientists are trained to treat every single action, specimen, and encounter as if it were a threat to health and safety, and yet…do we?

Life is short, disease is inevitable, and safety precautions are a must…but also a choice. Choose wisely, and don’t compromise! If your hospital/laboratory/healthcare system is following PPE and international safety regulatory compliance, good for you and those around you. We are the most knowledgeable infectious control specialists on the planet, and we have the obligation to lead the way in international and personal safety.

And as I mentioned in my last blog, let’s roll up our lab coat sleeves—and put those gloves and masks on…we have a lot of work to do!



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


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