Tag Archives: paperless microbiology

“Towards a paper-free laboratory”

980706SL  3/3  Dr. Donald B. Louria, Chairman of the Department of Preventative Medicine and Community Health, in his cluttered office at UMDNJ in Newark. He has discovered that immune system suppressor CD8 cells secrete substances that control the growth of the AIDS virus. 7/6/98 NJNP Photo/Scott Lituchy

How many of you work in a microbiology laboratory that is completely, and I mean completely, paper-free?

It is a nice goal to aspire to but it is also very difficult.

I think most of us are now past the days when the sample work-up was hand-written on the back of the request form (I certainly remember those days…) but this aside there are many other ways that paper can pervade our workplace.

Think about the following other potential sources of paper:

  • Method Manuals
  • Internal QC
  • External QC
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Training Records
  • Results coming back from Reference Labs
  • Educational Material including journals and textbooks
  • Order forms for consumables

How many of the above list is your lab ‘paperless’ in?

For a lab to be completely paperless it needs to be disciplined.

Not only does it need to not produce its own paper (I would recommend a printer ban..), but it also has to have systems for digitalising (by scanning) any paper that comes into the laboratory from external sources.

More hastle than it’s worth?

Maybe, but once the systems are in place, such a vision has the potential to produce a very clean and clutter-free laboratory. It will also be cost effective in terms of saving money on printers and paper.

I think truly progressive laboratories should aspire to these kinds of goals…



“The Paperless Traveller”


With three more days to go at work in New Zealand, I am just going through my office files working out what I need to take with me and what needs to be dumped…

It would not have been so many years ago, that moving all my microbiology files, old research papers, presentations, textbooks, journals, etc etc would have required several cardboard boxes.

Now I am going to walk out of my office with a USB stick attached to my key ring, a memory “USB credit card” in my wallet, and everything backed up on “Google Drive“.

The days of needing to haul around cardboard boxes are more or less gone, but for those of us of a certain age, we sometimes forget that this is even possible….

The power to store information digitally is now quite staggering. I will thus be ruthless with the remaining paper files in my office, safe in the knowledge that I am not leaving anything behind…

For a wandering microbiologist like myself, paperless travelling is the way to go….