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Outside the Lab Profession, Laboratory management

Doing Our Scientific Duty to Fight COVID-19

To say that the world looks vastly different now than it did two months ago is an understatement.

When COVID-19 first emerged in the USA, few people had any idea how drastically it would change our society – let alone how we view and practice healthcare. But now, in the midst of our fight against a pandemic, we are seeing just how far we are from where we used to be – and how far we still have to go.

No one can say how or when the pandemic will end, if we will ever be truly free of the grip COVID-19 has on our society, or if it will rear its head again six or 12 months from now. All we know is that we learn more every day about this virus, and that we, as pathology and laboratory professionals on the front lines, have a responsibility to our patients to stay on top of emerging research that can help flatten the curve and ultimately stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Our understanding of the virus is changing so fast it can be a challenge to keep up. New tests and platforms are quickly becoming available, fast-tracked to the public by healthcare authorities desperate to offer solutions to this crisis. Nevertheless, the challenge of disseminating necessary – and reliable – information is one we take on eagerly, because conveying the most up-to-date information as we know it is essential for the betterment of public health.

We have a responsibility to our patients to stay on top of emerging research that can help flatten the curve and ultimately stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

From the start, the ASCP has embraced its duty to keep the pathology and laboratory community informed. When COVID-19 first started sweeping the nation, we filmed a docuseries of in-the-moment interviews with pathologists and medical laboratory scientists to showcase their tireless work in caring for the nation. We’ve developed a dedicated page of COVID-19 resources that we update regularly with new information. We’ve launched a new series of Town Hall events that provide in-depth discussions with experts on essential issues surrounding the laboratory, such as the National Testing Strategy, transfusion medicine, and multiplatform testing. And our scientific journals have published several editorials and reviews on topics affecting the laboratory right now, from the reliability of serology tests to the safety of laboratory scientists while testing for the virus.

It is this type of research and discourse that enables the pathology and laboratory community to advance the fight against COVID-19. As leaders in healthcare, it is our job to be stewards of research and information as it becomes available. And it is our job to foster the research and analysis needed to ensure that testing is effective and provides value to public health. It is on the shoulders of pathology and laboratory professionals to design and develop tests that provide accurate information so that patients and clinicians can make appropriate care decisions.

As we move toward stopping the spread of COVID-19, we do so knowing that each new stage brings its own set of challenges – but we endeavor to meet and overcome those challenges step-by-step using our skills and expertise.

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About the Author

E. Blair Holladay

CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

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