The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated greater precautions to be taken by various industries to keep employees safe. In particular, professionals working in medical laboratories have had to adopt unique protocols of their own.
Since clinical laboratory personnel typically find themselves close to their colleagues, social distancing becomes extremely difficult to practice. This is compounded by the fact that this type of work involves being in contact with high-touch materials and surfaces, and also cannot easily be done remotely.
Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that any medical lab technician go about their job as safely as possible to avoid infection to themselves or others. Here are some safety precautions that can be taken by medical lab tech graduates during the pandemic.
Labs Should Be Inspected, Cleaned, and Disinfected Regularly
Although cleaning and inspecting labs is a common practice, it’s highly recommended that lab professionals do these routine cleaning practices more often in light of the pandemic. Make sure all areas of the lab — especially ones that are frequently touched — are thoroughly cleaned and then disinfected at least twice daily.
Examples of high-touch surfaces include handrails, counters, and door handles. Beyond this, you can also put tape on the floor to establish physical distancing in the lab, as well as making sure you and all colleagues are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times on the job.
Graduates of Medical Lab Technician Training Should Also Practice Good Hygiene
This shouldn’t need to be explained, but it bears repeating. Any graduate of a medical laboratory technician program who is employed in a lab should:
- Wash their hands frequently
- Avoid touching their face without washing their hands first
- Stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms
- Avoid contact with others who are showing symptoms or have been in contact with suspected or confirmed cases
Furthermore, despite the confined spaces of medical labs, try your best to practice physical distancing by staying a minimum of two metres apart from your colleagues, if possible. If you feel sick, inform your supervisor as soon as you begin showing symptoms. Following rules related to hygiene and distancing is key to getting through this type of work during the pandemic, for you and all others involved.
The Laboratory Must Be Prepared Accordingly
Although practicing proper preparation is a good habit for students completing their medical lab technician training to pick up at any time, it’s especially pertinent to our current circumstances.
With this in mind, any lab that is short-staffed or lacking certain resources must take certain precautions. For example, do not perform any potentially risky procedures while alone in the lab without first informing supervisors and colleagues.
Additionally, lab professionals should not perform tests that generate aerosol if the lab does not have the correct infrastructure or protocols in place for them. Lastly, make an effort to ensure there is a sufficient supply of N95 masks and other forms of PPE in the lab, especially since orders for supplies of any kind can be delayed during the pandemic.
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