Saturday, November 8, 2014

contamination risk?

Can the use of pneumatic tubes to transport lab samples of a deadly virus lead to wider contamination? This is the fear of some hospital staff where an Ebola patient has been treated recently in Maryland, U.S.

The hospital, in an attempt to calm such fears, issued a statement declaring that while the lab samples of the patient did travel by pneumatic tube during his first visit to the hospital, at no time did they leak or spill from their bag or carrier into the tube system. During the patient's second visit, the pneumatic tube system was not used. Specimens were instead "triple bagged", placed in a container, placed in another container and then hand-carried to the lab via a "buddy system". Contrast this with health facilities in Guinea, where nurses don't even have an adequate supply of gloves, as reported in this blogpost, part of Somatosphere's intelligent coverage of the disastrous epidemic, Ebola Fieldnotes.

Image of biohazard bags for pneumatic tube system, my own.

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