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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Laboratory Emergency Preparedness. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Disease of the Month

Infectious diseases move around the world quickly as international travel has increased. We can apply what we learned from the Ebola outbreak to other diseases as they may occur. Viral outbreaks continue to appear in Asia and other parts of the world.
Important in preparing for these events is ensuring staff follow infection prevention rules and use personal protective equipment (PPE) and engineering controls, such as hoods, effectively. Audits of staff wearing PPE correctly and donning and doffing masks, gloves, and lab coats are effective in identifying gaps. Training videos are available online. Observed practice in donning and doffing PPE is an important exercise.
Facilities may have various policies to prevent the spread of disease, including the screening of patients about recent travel and separating these patients from other patients. In addition, some facilities have opted to perform only limited testing for ill patients suspected of having highly infectious diseases.
The most recent flu epidemic stretched manufacturers of test kits, as well as microbiology laboratories ability to provide testing for at risk patients. Testing the laboratory's and facility's policies and procedures through a tabletop exercise is a worthwhile endeavor.
As less children have become vaccinated, there is the potential for children to spread diseases, such as measles and mumps, to other children and adults when they are at school, on vacation, or in a healthcare facility. Specimen collection staff are at risk and may be restricted from work for days to weeks depending on the disease. Policies and procedures need to be in place to handle personnel issues.