As the first two decades of the 21st century have unfolded, among the few constants has been the reminder that clinical health care remains, perhaps, our most vital and essential human endeavor. When evidence of the potential for events such as pandemics arise, fear and panic can take hold, and attention is quickly drawn to health care practitioners by those looking for answers to questions that are not fully formed. Despite numerous existing diseases and various states of illness, clinicians are invariably called upon to address what is new or sensational.
With the global emergence of COVID-19 and the related reaction, as with the SARS outbreak of 2002-2004 or the 2009-2010 H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic, people are prone to develop substantial anxiety and confusion about what to do. While advice in this regard varies widely depending on the circumstances, the bulk of it would likely apply to prophylactic measures taken to avoid or mitigate any communicable disease. The point is, the ways in which clinicians view and engage these issues can differ significantly from those of the public at large.
While many laboratorians may not have direct, front-line contact with patients (phlebotomists aside), the work of laboratorians and pathologists so greatly affects not only clinical outcomes, but the peace of mind of entire populations. As efforts are focused on finding ways to quickly and clearly identify, properly treat, and eventually inoculate against COVID-19, clinical and research laboratorians are being called upon to lead and apply these efforts. It remains to be seen how this particular virus will run its course, and what the effects will be on upcoming clinical conferences and expositions, but one thing will remain sound: The influence of medical laboratory professionals in helping to shape the public discourse.
MedicalLab Management will continue to keep a close eye on this developing story and seek to gauge the interest and reaction from your peers and colleagues.
With best regards,
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