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Different Specialty Labs Within The Modern Healthcare System

Laboratory testing is an important part of our current modern health care system. Analysis of blood, urine, biopsies and more is crucial for the health care provider for the diagnosis of illness and for the decision-making process for the continued care of the patient. There are many different situations where laboratory testing is necessary from simple tests for blood sugar or pregnancy to complex testing for the diagnosis of disease. Sometimes blood samples are even taken postmortem and analyzed to try to determine the cause of death.

The labs in most hospitals and medical facilities have different departments for the different types of screening methods. The different departments have different types of analyzers, incubators, computer programs and more that help to complete the necessary laboratory analysis work. The different lab departments focus may focus on chemistry, anatomy, pathology, microbiology or serology. Different things are needed for different diagnosis’s and processing procedures.

The Various Labs

    • The clinical lab is where the lab technicians focus on processing cultures to help diagnose disease. Typically, a tiny sample of the collected specimen and place it in a special growth media where it is incubated for a certain amount of time to see how it multiplies. Virology, mycobacteria and fungus all require their own special processing procedures. The clinical lab specialties are toxicology and , microbiology including virology, mycology, bacteriology, parasitology. Also, molecular, urinalysis and hematology.
    • The chemistry lab is focused on blood work. This is where the blood samples are analyzed, preserved and screened most often with automated chemistry lab analyzers.
    • The blood bank is where the blood that is given for donations is matched for blood type, cross-matched for potential patients and stored for transfusions.
    • The pathology and histology lab is where the surgical biopsies are microscopically examined. Gross exams are performed by a pathology along with a histology technician who tracks, measures, mounts, stains and cuts the specimen for the pathologist to read. Every minor detail and everything that they see, from the size and appearance to the way it looks when it is cut in carefully recorded.
    • The cytology lab is where cytologists look at cells to determine if they are healthy or abnormal. This is where all of the fluids are analyzed, for example from PAP smears, but also spinal fluid, pleural fluid, ascetic and abdominal fluids as well as mucus and sputum. All of these things are analyzed here. If abnormal cells are found the slides will be referred to a pathology to finalize and confirm the readings.

As a phlebotomy technician it is important to have a general knowledge of the different lab departments within the medical facility. More of this information will be covered in your accredited classes for certification and continuing education.

Filed in: Phlebotomist, Phlebotomy Career

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