Re-engineering in Clinical Microbiology Labs

Ld W. Baldwin eirikr1 at ix.netcom.com
Sun Dec 24 11:03:57 EST 1995

In <4bho05$cn6 at newsbf02.news.aol.com> wasgross at aol.com (WasGross)

>2) Does anyone have experience in hiring High School graduates and
>assigning duties? I resently lost a Medical Technologist that to my
>is being replaced by a processor which is a person with a High School

This is part of a growing problem in healthcare. There is a movement to
replace Nurses, Paramedics, etc., with "technicians" who are given an
OJT in a training course by the supervisor. Don't even require a HS
diploma, just adherence to the SOP. Theory is, that as long as the
employee follows the SOP, exactly, he doesn't have to know why. In
other words, as long as he puts the instuments in this machine and sets
the knobs like he's told, he dosen't have to know it's an autoclave.

But when the unexpected happens, they don't know any different.

Example: At the plasma center where I once worked, we had only one
person with any kind of degree, the Doctor. He was not there all the
time, and he certainly did not supervise afterhours cleaning and
sterilizing. We were required to sterilize cottonball containers every
week. We took the remaining (sterile?) cotton out of one, sterilized
it, and put back the cotton before sterilizing the other. BUT, when we
couldn't find one of our containers, one of the employees just used a
sandwich bag to hold these sterile cotton balls. " If it's meant for
food that you put in your mouth it must be sterile, right?" I had no
training at that time but I *knew* that sterile and clean couldn't be
the same thing. These cotton balls were used as dressings on
venipuncture wounds from 15 gauge needles!!

I rushed to the Asst manager to explain the sitiuation. His reply:
"makes sense to me!" and "SOP don't say you can't.". If any of us had
any kind of medical training back then, we would have known better. We
would have obtained a *sterile*, not clean, container, and would have
thrown away the old cotton balls. (or resterilized them). You get what
you pay for. Employees are *not* robots, and will *not* act like it.
when an incident occurs, they *will* try to handle it themselves, with
the knowledge\training\education they already have. Calling a
supervisor for help happens after they've given up on it themselves.

>I am dismayed over the direction of Clinical Labs but am trying to
>with it the best I can.

As the above, hospitals and the entire medical-pharmaceutical industry
are targets of this. My story is over ten years old, but I've seen no 
progress in this area.

W. Baldwin, Jr.
Physician Substitute

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