RE: Clothing etiquette for the bench tech.

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From:"Johnson, Mickey" <>
To:"'Garza-Williams, Sara'" <>,
Content-Type:text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Hi Sara,
We have a policy which says all techs will wear lab coats while working with
chemicals, stains or infectious materials.  The problem in many labs is that
techs will get up from cutting to go do a frozen section.  They need
protection of a lab coat while doing frozens and while doing special stains,
etc.   Embedding and cutting are basically not places where infection is a
concern unless contamination is carried there from other areas of the lab.
Most techs want to wear coats while cutting and embedding to protect their
clothing. Regarding gloves, some techs wear gloves while embedding or
cutting, but I don't think this is required.  We require gloves while
staining slides though. 
I think your inspector got into a tight spot in the argument and felt she
had to justify her decision. I think wearing lab coats in the analytical
parts of the clinical lab require coats and gloves as body substance
isolation protection. 
Hope my 2c worth helps.  Good Luck!!


Michael L Johnson, BS, HTL(ASCP)
Histology Supervisor
Department of Pathology
Sacred Heart Medical Center
W. 101 8th Avenue
Spokane, WA 99220

-----Original Message-----
From: Garza-Williams, Sara []
Sent: Saturday, May 13, 2000 8:44 PM
Subject: Clothing etiquette for the bench tech.

Please, please I need the your help regarding my argument to a CAP
inspector (lab general).

She gave me a huge "Ding" regarding the fact that our techs were not
wearing lab coats(in the cutting and staining area), they do wear gloves. 
She also justified her point by indicating because the techs were wearing
jeans it was "unprofessional".  Of course, I could hardly contain myself
and had try very hard to control myself from stating what I really wanted
to say...

I did tell her,  specimens were never triage in the main lab, so full PPE
was irrelevant.  Our techs do wear nitrile gloves for protection from the
reagents and chemicals. 

She said full PPE was essential because the blocks and slides were
considered infectious. So of course I said "At what point does the slide
and/or block ever become non-infectious-when it reaches the pathologist?" 
She said "They should continue to be considered infectious and that the
pathologist should be wearing lab coats when they read out slides."  I said
"Should the pathologist wear gloves as well, they have to touch the
slide".  Our exchange went on and on until she said "I have to give you the

My pathologist went ballistic, as I did.  He and I would like to know what
do other labs do?
We are determined to argue for principle sake only.  My pathologist feels
that PPE is essential when you consider every situation with logic but he
doesn't care if the techs cut naked (metaphorically). in the lab because
they do such good work and work safe.

So my question is,  Do you require techs to wear a lab coat in the main
part of the lab?  What is your lab policy?  Our policy (approved by the
Infectious Disease department)  specifically states that no PPE is required
in the main lab area, but full PPE is required in the gross room ,morgue or
when cutting frozen sections.

Of the hospitals that I've seen (a least a dozen) none of them require
their techs to wear coats.
I'd love the hear from other labs.  Sorry about the long story but I'm
still steaming....


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