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March 25, 1988

The Labeling of Specimens as Infectious-Reply

JAMA. 1988;259(12):1807-1808. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720120015012

In Reply.  —We stand by the results of our study. There is an apparent conflict between Dr Godfrey's agreement that "all specimens should... be handled with appropriate precautions" and his statement that laboratory workers should "protect themselves with increased caution" when handling specimens labeled as infectious. What additional measures does he recommend? Whatever they are, our study shows that they should apply to unlabeled specimens as well as to labeled ones. As Dr Godfrey points out, this recommendation has the support of the Public Health Service1 and the American Hospital Association, as well as the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control.2 These organizations did not develop their guidelines in a vacuum; each received substantial input from representatives of laboratories, nurses, and others that routinely handle specimens.Of course, HIV and hepatitis B virus are not the only concerns. Specimens likely to harbor cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, the human T-cell