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Patricia Slev, PhD, section chief of Immunology at ARUP Laboratories, coauthored a newly published study that looked at COVID-19-related risks facing emergency department workers early in the pandemic.

August 30, 2022

Hospital emergency department workers who used appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic faced no greater risk of infection than that of nonclinical staff despite exposure to high-risk, aerosol-generating procedures and occasional lapses in PPE use, according to a newly published study in which ARUP Laboratories played an important role.

Rather, the most notable risks of infection for both groups included household and community exposure, hospital case counts, and mask nonuse while in public, said the study, “Emergency department personnel patient care-related COVID-19 risk,” which was published on July 22, 2022, in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study of 1,673 emergency department physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and nonclinical staff members at 20 academic medical centers in the United States took place from May 13 to December 9, 2020, before vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 was available, and before the emergence of the Delta variant and other subvariants of SARS-CoV-2.

ARUP provided both molecular diagnostic and antibody testing for the study, with Patricia Slev, PhD, a study coauthor, providing expertise and guidance on appropriate test use and result interpretation in the rapidly changing landscape surrounding SARS-CoV-2 serology testing. Slev is the section chief of ARUP’s Immunology Division.

The study noted, “Future work should focus on comprehensive prevention strategies to maintain PPE availability to ensure a healthy HCP [healthcare professional] workforce, protect patients, and maintain adequate health system capacity.”

It also stressed the importance of “universal HCP vaccination and ongoing community mitigation and vaccination strategies.”

The COVID Evaluation of Risk for Emergency Departments (COVERED) project, which is a collaboration between the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, and the Carver College of Medicine at University of Iowa, funded the study, contracting with ARUP to perform the testing.

“This is one of a number of projects in which ARUP is involved that help advance our understanding of COVID-19,” Slev said, adding that ARUP’s collaboration with COVERED is still ongoing. “We’re proud of our ability to leverage both the expertise of our medical directors and our capabilities as a national reference laboratory to make a difference in patients’ lives.”


Lisa Carricaburu, lisa.carricaburu@aruplab.com