I was recently in a lawyer’s office and noticed desk upon desk filled (to toppling point) with paper files. It was chaos. I am also aware of large microbiology labs that are still documenting their specimen work-up handwritten on the back of the request form. I had thought those days had gone…
I believe we are in a transition period just now. Many labs have gone paperless for specimen processing, and some also for other laboratory functions. Not many labs are completely and utterly paperless though.
We like our paper, it feels safe, and it is what we are used to. We may even look for excuses not to get rid of it.
But I believe paper documentation has no place in the future of microbiology labs, or any other type of lab for that matter.
At some point in the next few years I would like to work in a lab that is completely paperless, from specimen processing, internal and external QC, meeting minutes, communication “books”, educational material etc etc.
This is undoubtedly the future, and for me, the amount of paper in a microbiology laboratory can be loosely correlated inversely with its’ progressiveness.