Lab Workers Pile Up Hours in Pandemic Testing

October 19, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Engagement & Morale

Last modified October 20, 2020

According to this article from MedPage Today, pathology laboratories across the country have been faced with numerous challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including working longer hours and struggling to find ways and means of producing test results.

During the 2020 virtual meeting of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), researchers discussed survey results indicating that for some pathologists, work weeks were lengthened by 12 hours due to backlog of COVID-19 testing.

In reporting the results of the surveys, Thomas M. Wheeler, MD, professor of pathology and immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said that in one case, a technician was moved into a hotel next to the hospital in case he was needed to run testing on a patient who was brought in for non-COVID-19 reasons.

Wheeler explained that any patients who came to the hospital, even those for non-COVID illness or injury, had to be treated as if they were carrying the deadly virus. This meant treating clinicians needed personal protective equipment and the patient had to be isolated until a test could clear him — hence, the technician who lived 35 miles away was moved to the hotel room where he could be available 24/7.

“It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously affected laboratory workers all across this country,” said Patrick Godbey, MD, CAP’s president and medical director of Southeastern Pathology Associates in Brunswick, Georgia.

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