I often see microscopes inside the office rooms of professors as well as other teaching members. They may not use them on daily basis but once in a while, or sometimes heavily used by a few of them. Some of them examine hospital slides received by that department from patients sputa to look for hazardous organisms (e.g. TB bacilli).

My question, according to the quality assurance standards of teaching laboratories, and from the safety point of view, is it acceptable to use microscopes inside offices instead of laboratory rooms? Is it acceptable to use them inside the office while wearing the casual clothes instead of the lab coat, and without gloves?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not unique to a medical school setting, but rather it applies to any non-laboratory setting. – tonysdg Jun 9 '17 at 19:17
  • This really depends on local laws: which country are you in? – Massimo Ortolano Jun 9 '17 at 19:18
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    In any scenario, the "use of a microscope" itself won't be a problem. Handling samples might be. – jvb Jun 9 '17 at 19:19
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    @jvb In some systems, a microscope might not be allowed in an office. – Massimo Ortolano Jun 9 '17 at 19:25
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    given the wide scope of Academia, it is hard to imagine this question is off-topic: a microscope is linked with teaching as well as with laboratories. Where does the difficulty come from? – doctorate Jun 10 '17 at 8:03

I see three main potential issues in the use of a microscope informally in an office, rather than in a laboratory environment:

  • Safety: some samples might be potentially hazardous to a person handling them without laboratory protections.
  • Sample damage: some samples may be vulnerable to contamination or damage through exposure to an office environment.
  • Ethics: information on a patient or student subject may be exposed through informal handling of a sample.

If all three of these can be dealt with (e.g., through proper sample preparation and reasonable precautions against exposure of adverse information), then I see no reason that a microscope cannot be used in an informal office environment. I am not familiar with precautions around the particular samples you mention in your post, but many fixatives used with specimens are extremely effective and might well render samples quite inert.

  • good points to consider, as you pointed out in ethics, I would say privacy issues alone can be a good reason for no-go. Such practice would encourage others to do so, and some of the offices are shared among the staff members. – doctorate Jun 10 '17 at 7:48

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