Strategies for Patient Safety and Research Resumption Plan

Published by David B. Roth, MD, PhD, on May 14, 2020

May 14 Update: From the Chair

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

We are at a moment in time when our discipline is at the heart of so many points of critical decision-making. Because using a test without understanding how to interpret the results can be dangerous, I want to call your attention to a helpful op-ed piece in the New York Times around the accuracy of antibody tests. As the authors point out, for a population whose infection rate is five percent, a test that is 90 percent accurate could deliver a false positive nearly 70 percent of the time. This is why our expertise is so significant.

The health system is now in the second week of our careful and phased return to a new normal, termed Project Resurgence. An important aspect of this Project Resurgence is to make sure that patients and their families who are returning to the hospital for care know that it is safe to do so. We have several strategies in place to safeguard patients and staff by minimizing chances for exposure. These strategies include universal screening and masking, cohorting COVID patients in dedicated and controlled units, social distancing in all shared spaces, and employee health monitoring. Our occupational health data demonstrate that these measures have been very successful in protecting patients and staff from developing COVID-19 infections.

As we anticipate improvement in the trajectory of the pandemic, it is time to begin planning to resume our research activity. The research resumption plan consists of three phases that gradually increase research on campus with structures that ensure social distancing and safety. This plan was informed by several task forces and councils, representing input from all schools. Of course, the document and associated resources will evolve as technology and tools that support research resumption are developed. The PSOM plan and additional resources can be found here.

Some of our Penn Medicine colleagues have curated resources around online learning, movement, and support for preschoolers and K-5 students that are available on the PennMedicineTogether site. Fellow parents also shared their strategies for effectively managing families at home.

This week, Gritty, the NHL Flyers mascot, stopped by at HUP to deliver some free meals and to express --uhm-- its appreciation for healthcare heroes, all while wearing a face shield. For those of you who were unable to witness Gritty's visit in person, here is another message of thank-you (including Pathology and the Lab at 0:25 seconds!)

Many of you have been pushed outside of your comfort zones. Others have been making heroic efforts on behalf of others. Be sure to spend some time taking care of yourselves. If you don't take care of yourself, sooner or later you may not be able to take care of someone else.

David Roth

David B. Roth, MD, PhD, is the Simon Flexner Professor and Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these blog columns are those of the authors or other attributed individuals and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Department, Penn Medicine, or the University of Pennsylvania. Health information is provided for educational purposes and should not be used as a source of medical advice or diagnosis.