While both the biological safety and infection prevention professions exist to help individuals avoid contracting disease, there are distinct differences between the vocations. Biosafety professionals traditionally focus on the protection of laboratory workers from exposure to infectious biological agents by promoting safe microbiological practices and procedures and the proper use of containment equipment and facilities. Infection preventionists primarily focus on patient safety using epidemiology and the clinical applications of microbiology to prevent the spread of disease in the health care setting. Despite these differences, practitioners in both professions must possess a basic understanding of infectious diseases to perform their jobs effectively. For example, the principles of disease transmission and prevention, risk assessment, and sterilization are a few key concepts common between the professions. The recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa and the subsequent lessons learned from patient care efforts abroad and in the United States revealed gaps highlighting the need for the sharing of skill sets between biosafety and infection prevention to work in concert to prevent occupational infections, especially during outbreaks of diseases of public health significance. Since such global infectious disease threats will inevitability occur into the future, now is the time to gain a better understanding of how these professions can work together, by identifying common competencies and highlighting differences. The codification of these similarities and differences can provide a roadmap to new professional development training initiatives for the enhancement of the biosafety profession.
- Infection prevention
- Infectious agent
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis