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Interim Precautions for LP Employees
Handling Specimens from
Special Respiratory Isolations


The Clinical Center (CC) is instituting a strict category of isolation for patients with special respiratory disease, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It is anticipated that emerging infections or smallpox could be managed with this type of isolation.

The following precautions were developed based on latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the CC Safety, and the CC Hospital Epidemiology Service (HES). The CDC estimates that several thousand diagnostic specimens from patients with SARS have been processed in routine clinical laboratories and to date there have been no reported clusters of SARS illness among laboratory workers. As we learn more about these patients and the best way to handle laboratory specimens, we will likely change this procedure. At present, the only types of samples expected under the new SARS protocol are:

  • Bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) or other bronchial cytology specimen, placed in formalin.
  • Trans-bronchial biopsy placed in formalin.
  • Other, unexpected specimens, as clinically indicated.
  • Potential autopsy.


  1. Frozen sections will not be done on these patients, until more is learned about how to do them safely.
  2. Smears cannot be made at the bedside for Fine Needle Aspirates.
  3. Specimens dedicated for tissue exam or cytopathology exam (not cultures) must be placed directly in formalin (see below).

For questions or problems, contact your supervisor. The supervisor may consult the following resources:

  • CDC website:

  • WHO website:

  • Hospital Epidemiologist:

    • Office: 301-496-3515

    • Cell: 240-602-8375

  • Hospital Epidemiology Service:

    • Office: 301-496-2209

    • Evenings/weekends (page): 301-496-1211

  • SARS Investigators:

    • John Beigal: 301-435-2292

    • Cliff Lane: 301-496-7196

  • LP, Clinical Lab Manager: Joseph Chinquee: 301-594-9532

Last Updated 12/28/2009 10:54:28 AM

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