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Don't Forget the Lab Workers

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I just finished reading the article titled "Killer on the Loose" by Mike Sula in the May 17, 2002, issue. I was very impressed with this article, both for the medical preciseness and the style of writing. I congratulate Mike Sula for doing excellent "homework" on the facts. As a clinical microbiologist for the past 30 years, I have had numerous occasions to work with infectious-disease physicians and hospital infection-control personnel, not all of which are necessarily nurses, and with the public health departments.

Mike Sula's story tells a lot about the integrity of the health care professionals at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare's Evanston Hospital, and the quality of care delivered by these individuals. However, what was not mentioned or emphasized was the extreme necessity for teamwork amongst the different departments in a hospital. A far more serious and widespread outcome could have easily been the case in the described Group A strep outbreak. But because of the work of astute medical doctors, on-the-ball infection-control personnel, and very well trained and educated laboratory microbiologists, the hospital averted a devastating epidemic. Please give credit to the laboratory personnel as well as the other departments in helping to stomp out this deadly potential. Teamwork, quality care, and thinking about the patient first contribute to better health care in our medical institutions.

Nanette Snowden, MPH, MT(ASCP) SM(AAM)

Evanston

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