Beware Our Barbarous Ancestors


July-August 2019 - Vol. 8 No. 7 - Page #1

I am reminded lately of the famous and curiously prescient quote from a letter Thomas Jefferson penned to Samuel Kercheval in July 1816:

”I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”*

This version of the quote was thought to be as clear and concise a description of the intended evolution of societal governance that it adorns the southeast portico of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. [As an editor, I am compelled to note that this version of the quote is somewhat truncated from the full version that appeared in the actual letter.**]

Advocacy for broad and sweeping process change in clinical laboratory operations can be unnerving for numerous reasons, among them simply the magnitude of wholesale disruption to the status quo. In this month’s issue, we look at change management that has a wide impact, including multi-site instrument and practice standardization (see our cover story, the implementation of a new electronic health record and the development of a home-grown inventory management system.

In MLM's efforts to serve clinical laboratory directors and practitioners, we seek to become more enlightened and wish to remain open to new manners and opinions. Clinical science often is singled out when the topic of comparison to our “barbarous ancestors” arises. Someone always mentions the use of leeches. As clinical laboratory leaders, you know that change and improvement are always around the corner regardless of whether you care for or are prepared for it. As such, we aim to continue to help you find the right fit for your evolving laboratory operations.

With best regards,

David McCormick
Managing Editor

* www.nps.gov/thje/learn/photosmultimedia/quotations.htm
** www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/quotations-jefferson-memorial

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