Staff Shortages in Labs
Relieving Burnout While Working in a Lab with CURIS System Devices
Emerging viral pathogens and COVID-19 have often shifted our focus away from those who are working in a lab behind the scenes to keep us safe. Laboratory science personnel play a pivotal role in the sampling and diagnosis of infectious diseases and other breakthrough research. They can be found in medical, pharmaceutical, life sciences, and research laboratories. This highly important work requires well-trained and well-equipped personnel whose responsibilities include the planning and treatment of microbial contamination within the facility. In recent years, mounting stress, overwork, burnout, illness, and pay have all greatly contributed to a large-scale exodus from the laboratory sciences industry, placing a greater burden on remaining staff to adequately follow a strict and often laborious decontamination protocol. Hybrid Hydrogen Peroxide™ (HHP™) decontamination has become a staple in the laboratory environment due to its automated and integrated approach that relieves some of the burden of contamination control placed on personnel, thereby reducing stress and burnout.
How Typical Disinfection Contributes to Burnout
Laboratory workers often include lab technicians, biosafety officers, environmental health and safety staff, quality assurance/control staff, and scientists. According to a recent poll, labs have seen vacancy rates in some positions up to 25%, but most often are between 7% to 11% (Stone, 1). Much of this is attributed to burnout faced by personnel. One poll found that 85.3% of laboratory professionals described themselves as being burnt-out (Golab, 1). As professionals begin to leave the field, the remaining personnel become more overwhelmed by incurring the extra labor. Current disinfection treatments can contribute significantly to burnout because of their laborious and time-consuming nature, including:
- Manual Disinfection: Manual disinfection treatments can be a laborious and hazardous process because they require personnel to enter the contaminated space and wipe down surfaces and equipment with disinfectants like quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS), peracetic acid, and alcohols. This is not only time-consuming but can also lead to surfaces being missed entirely. It also increases the risk of exposure for the personnel performing the disinfection. Implementing a vaporous automated sterilization or disinfection system can decrease the stress of staff by enabling a hands-free approach to disinfection. CURIS provides automated high-level sporicidal disinfection as portable and fixed options.
- Corrosive or Sticky Residue Removal: Many disinfectants can leave behind residues that create a sticky environment where pervasive pathogens may cling and can lead to resistance, such as with QUATS. Others leave behind corrosive residues that gradually wear down sensitive and expensive equipment over time, like chlorine dioxide, formaldehyde, and high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. After the disinfection treatments have ceased, a staff member must enter the space and wipe off the residues to prevent the degradation of equipment, which adds stress to staff. CURIS offers 7% HHP™ technology in its systems. This lower concentration achieves superior 6-log repeatable, validatable efficacy without harming sensitive equipment. Lab staff prefer working with less caustic chemicals which leads to a feeling of safety in the lab environment, increasing staff satisfaction.
- Bulky Equipment: Multiple decontamination systems on the market are bulky, heavy, and challenging to transport throughout a facility because they have multiple parts. This can be extremely time-consuming and labor intensive for the environmental monitoring staff that are already overwhelmed by other tasks. Other decontamination equipment is designed to be carried on a technician’s back, potentially increasing workplace hazards from heavy equipment handling. CURIS offers easy to use one touch operation that never includes heavy equipment or complicated multi-piece systems, increasing early adoption.
- Equipment Surveillance: Some decontamination systems require personnel to continuously monitor the decontamination process to ensure safety in case caustic chemicals leak out. This increases the amount of staff needed to operate the system and prevents staff from working on other projects once the treatment cycle has commenced, exacerbating staff stress. Choosing systems with low consequence processes provides staff with the freedom to focus on other priorities and increases confidence in the safety of the application. Using CURIS, laboratory staff feel less stressed and experience less mandatory shutdown time.
The CURIS Solution
CURIS System devices use a whole space, integrated approach to decontaminate a laboratory space using a 7% HHP™ system. This hands-free, automated system envelops the room in an HHP™ combination of vapor and submicron particles, maintaining an adequate dwell time to eliminate pervasive pathogens with a 6-log repeatable validatable reduction. Unlike high consequence legacy technologies, CURIS System HHP™ devices do not require staff to be present during the treatment cycle, allowing staff to complete other tasks without worrying about potential exposure to ppm of 1000 or more. HHP™ particles break down into water and oxygen, leaving no sticky or corrosive residues behind to damage sensitive and expensive laboratory equipment. Safety, efficacy, and ease of use help many labs sustain pathogen-free environments without complicated staffing challenges. Whether implementing a portable system or opting for an on-demand facility integrated system into your laboratory, consider how CURIS System can play an influential role in removing some of the burden from environmental services staff and decreasing staff burnout by decreasing the laborious workload needed to complete a decontamination treatment.
To learn more about how CURIS System devices can benefit your staff while working in a lab, visit www.curissystem.com
Golab, K. (2021, September 2). The impact of Burnout on Clinical Lab Staff. Today's Clinical Lab. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.clinicallab.com/trends/laboratory-training/the-impact-of-burnout-on-clinical-lab-staff-25911
Garcia, Edna, et al. “The American Society for Clinical Pathology's job satisfaction, well-being, and burnout survey of laboratory professionals.” American Journal of Clinical Pathology 153.4 (2020): 470–486.
Stone, J. (2022, April 29). We're facing a critical shortage of medical laboratory professionals. Forbes. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2022/04/28/were-facing-a-critical-shortage-of-medical-laboratory-professionals/?sh=601a00e4260c