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Report: Poor Understanding and Consideration for Lab Safety Key Causes of CDC Lapses

A recently-released report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on safety underlined a flawed understanding of safety and poor leadership as key reasons for safety lapses at CDC laboratories.

by Lab Manager
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ebolaA mistake in transporting samples at a CDC Ebola laboratory in December was just one of a series of recent safety lapses in CDC labs.U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention“Safety, including lab safety, is viewed by many [at the CDC] as something separate from and outside the primary missions of public health and research,” the committee, which is made up of several independent experts, stated in the report. “Safety is not integrated into strategic planning and is not currently part of the CDC culture, enterprise-wide.” 

The document highlighted seven main reasons for recent safety issues at CDC laboratories, the most recent of which occurred in December when Ebola lab staff possibly came into contact with the virus when a technician moved samples to the incorrect location. Earlier incidents in May and June had led the CDC to put together the advisory group in July to address the problems that led to those situations. 

Among the recommendations made in the report, the committee suggested the CDC should establish a “CDC Way” of safely performing science that would be strictly followed “from the top down,” funding laboratory safety programs and training from a central source, tweaking governance structures to better support safety, improving the safety culture at the CDC, and generally make safety a top priority. 

“CDC is an incredibly capable organization and its value in promoting the health of our society cannot be lost,” the committee concluded in its final observation. “We are very concerned that the CDC is on the way to losing credibility. The CDC must not see itself as ‘special.’ The internal controls and rules that the rest of the world works under also apply to CDC.” 

For the full report, click here

-       With files from WTKR.com