In a science-dependent world, most people understand that there are countless laboratories around the globe that are busy each day generating the products and information that we all demand.
But inside the walls of these laboratories, the work being done is very complex. New treatments that are being developed require far more than just an assortment of test tubes bubbling in a brightly-lit room lined with microscopes and clipboards. There are extensive governmental regulations, complex procedural requirements, and significant documentation processes that must be followed to the letter in order to assure safety, efficacy, and purity of the work being done.
The result of the complexity of these processes is that a number of firms exist in order to attend to the specialized requirements of various laboratory types. The work they do often supplants the efforts of in-house staff, freeing up resources to make the operation more economical.
One of the common tasks handled by outside vendors storage and transport. This process alone is complex enough to build its own industry. The types of biological samples handled by Pacific BioStorage require following very specific steps. These include comprehensive chain-of-custody documentation, proper packing methods, safe transport, and safe storage. Here are just a few of the things that go into each of these steps:
The integrity of sample identification is paramount. Whatever the purpose of the blood or tissue being stored, it must be absolutely assured to have originated where its documentation suggests. Any aberration from this standard can potentially destroy the entire process.
Consider the evidence gathered by police at the scene of a crime. If blood or DNA samples from two different murder weapons are interchanged, two killers could potentially go free. There could even be repercussions against the law enforcement personnel who collected the specimens after the implication of planted evidence.
The same is true with medical samples. If a new procedure has been attempted and the patient’s bloodwork must be stored for an extensive period, a serious statistical anomaly could take place if the identification is lost, jeopardizing years’ worth of work.
Proper Packing & Safe Transport
Mistakes in packing can cause three main problems. The first is spoilage. Improper insulation could cause temperatures to become too high or too low in the specimen, damaging important components.
The next is integrity. Poor packing of samples could cause their individual containers to leak, allowing various materials to intermingle and become contaminated.
The final problem is public health. Because so many biological samples are biohazards, it is critically important that they be fully contained inside impermeable containers at all times, so that the contents don’t leak into water, food, soil, or air.
Expert firms must be utilized to get these samples properly secured for their relocation or long-term storage.
The key factors in safe storage of biological samples are security and redundancy. Samples must be secured with more than just a lock and key. There must be strict protocols in place for who can access which samples. Additionally, there will probably be documentation of who has had access to what specimens at any given time.
Redundancy is the other important area. A cooling system, power source, or tracking system cannot be one-dimensional. There must be provisions in place for power failures, equipment malfunctions, and maintenance downtime. Without properly maintaining the correct temperature, light, and humidity conditions, samples can be compromised.
The average person understands that scientific laboratories involve high-level chemistry and biology. But the process of just handling the samples involved in the work is so complex that it’s an industry of its own.