Assessing the biological safety profession's evaluation and control of risks associated with the field collection of potentially infectious specimens
Because the origins of the biological safety profession are rooted in the control and prevention of laboratory associated infections, the vocation focuses its efforts primarily on the safe handling of specimens within the laboratory. But in many cases the specimens and samples handled in the lab are originally collected in the field, where a broader set of possible exposure considerations may be present, each with varying degrees of controllability. The failure to adequately control the risks associated with the field collection of biological specimens may result in potential illness or injury, and could have a direct impact on laboratory safety if, for example, infectious specimens were packaged or transported inappropriately. This study involved the development of a web-based survey distributed to practicing biological safety professionals to determine the prevalence and extent to which biological safety programs consider and evaluate field collection activities. In cases where such issues were considered, the associated data collected were used to characterize the types of controls and methods of oversight at the institutional level that are being employed. Sixty-one percent (61%) of the survey respondents indicated that research involving the field collection of biological specimens is conducted at their institution of employment. A statistically significant majority (79%) of these field collection activities occur at academic institutions. Seventy-three percent (73%) of respondents indicated they have assigned an institutional oversight committee (either an Institutional Biosafety Committee, Biological Safety Committee, or in one case, a Field Research Safety Committee) to review such protocols, but only 25% have generated a field research-specific risk assessment form to facilitate the assembly of pertinent information necessary for a project risk assessment review. The results also indicated that most biosafety professionals (73% overall; 71% from institutions conducting field collection activities) have not been formally trained on the topic, but many (64% overall; 87% from institutions conducting field collection activities) indicated that training on field research safety issues would be helpful and even more (71% overall; 93% from institutions conducting field collection activities) would consider participation in such a training course. These results obtained from this study can be used as the basis for the development of field research safety toolkit and associated training curricula specifically targeted for biological safety professionals.
Occupational health|Public health|Environmental science
Patlovich, Scott Jeffrey, "Assessing the biological safety profession's evaluation and control of risks associated with the field collection of potentially infectious specimens" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3638263.