NOV 09, 2017 6:00 AM PST

Biosafety Risk Assessment Fundamentals for Clinical Laboratories

  • Clinical Professor at the University of Iowa, College of Public Health
      Dr. Pentella is a Clinical Professor at the University of Iowa, College of Public Health. His experience spans over forty years in clinical microbiology and public health laboratories. He is certified as an American Board of Medical Microbiology Diplomate and serves on a number of national commitees.


    This session will review and describe the basic steps of a biosafety risk assessment for clinical laboratories.  The risk of exposure to infectious agents exists in every clinical laboratory. Laboratories must minimize that risk and conduct activities as safely as possible. The starting point is performance of a risk assessment specific for the tests performed and instrumentation used in the laboratory. The risk assessment process relies on accumulating factual information about the pathogens and the testing procedures to define the health effects to workers from exposure.  Integral to the risk assessment process is knowledge of the biological agent, facility, safety equipment, and work processes. To perform a risk assessment requires gathering all available information on pathogens that the lab can reasonably expect to encounter and evaluating procedures used in the laboratory to determine the possible risks associated with the activities.  While the risk assessment is the initial step, it is only one component of the biosafety plan, which includes the selection of mitigation tools, employment of biosafety competencies, biosafety training, safety audits and occupational health services. 

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