January is peak season for influenza. Check out these tips for laboratory professionals, pathologists and residents from fellow members of the laboratory team to help you and your patients stay in top shape during the winter months.
"While flu vaccinations are generally required for all healthcare personnel, handwashing should be of equal value – hand-sanitizing is not a replacement, just a supplement. Being diligent about using and disposing of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as using appropriate ventilation hoods during specimen processing, is imperative; aerosolization of the flu virus is a very practical risk. Additionally, disposal of slides, contaminated specimen containers and testing equipment/materials in the correct biohazard receptacle is equally as important to protect the health and welfare of our colleagues and patients."
Jesse McCoy, MHS, PA(ASCP)CM
“Pathologists may interact with patients either through routine direct care or from casual healthcare facility exposure. Minimizing exposure and transmission of influenza is the key to maintaining a complete workforce and avoiding exposure for high-risk patients. Pathologists may, in addition, come into contact with specimens infected with influenza in the frozen section room, the grossing room or the clinical laboratories. Although universal precautions with personal protective equipment should always be followed, taking the extra step of protection through an annual influenza vaccine can further minimize risk from occupational exposure, direct patient contact and casual healthcare facility contact with others.”
Dan A. Milner, Jr., MD, MSc(Epi), FASCP
“With flu and cold virus season at its peak, it’s imperative that we strive to prevent person-to-person transmission in the lab. These efforts not only directly protect our patients but also protect our colleagues, allowing for a full laboratory workforce to provide the results required to heal our patients. Encourage friends and family to get vaccinated (medical residents are required to be vaccinated). Wash your hands often, especially after any contact with your face or lab equipment. Disinfect frequently used objects (keyboards, etc.), and if you have an upper respiratory infection (cold virus) at work, wear a mask to protect others. And keep studying for boards, but make sure to get some rest!”
Cody Carter, MD