RE: Clothing etiquette for the bench tech.

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From:"Tim Morken" <>
Content-Type:text/plain; format=flowed


Your people will have to have some sort of "appropriate" lab clothing. 
Street clothes won't do it. In the hospitals I have worked in we had 
uniforms (provided by the hospital) and lab coats were required in the 
special stains area but not the cutting area. Gloves were required in 
special stains but not in the cutting area.

The inspector is wrong to make the assumption that blocks and slides are to 
be considered infectious. We (in the hospital lab) specifically made the 
determination that they are not infectious so we could eliminate them from 
the hazardous waste stream and save some money in disposal costs. The 
hospital safety people had no problem with that and in 5 CAP inspections it 
was never questioned. Assuming them to be infectious would also cause the 
entire office area of the lab to be considered a hazardous area and all 
personell, including pathologists, transcriptionists and secretaries would 
then have to wear all the protective gear. You know how long that would 
last. I think that inspector has a personal opinion that is not held up by 
the CAP (it would be interesting to see the inspectors lab!). You should 
press that to the end.

Tim Morken, B.A., EMT(MSA), HTL(ASCP)
Infectious Disease Pathology
Centers for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333


Phone: (404) 639-3964
FAX:  (404)639-3043

From: Garza-Williams, Sara (by way ofHistonet)
Sent: Saturday, May 13, 2000 11:44 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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