HCA Virginia - April 29, 2019

laboratory

When I think of a Laboratory I can't help but think of Dexter in his secret lab mixing chemicals with a menacing look on his face. Not to mention because of that cartoon I still find myself enunciating every syllable of the word… LA-BOR-A-TOR-Y. Am I alone here?

Working solo and getting mad at anyone interrupting him during his calculations was a regular theme in the cartoon that aired in the mid 90's. But to my pleasant surprise after talking to the Lab Techs over at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center my 12 year old perception has changed (thank goodness!).

This group of individuals who make up the Lab at the hospital really enjoy working as a team. And as much as I'd like to think that they are mixing up secret vials of chemicals, they are in fact doing something much cooler. They are treating each vial not as a specimen or just another tube, they are treating each vial as if it were the patient themselves.

You may not see them much but the laboratory team over at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center are working round the clock helping patients get the right diagnoses. 60 to 65% of medical decisions are based on results coming out of a laboratory and the techs don't take that statistic lightly. They truly care about each and every patient even if they are not interacting with them directly.

“Everyone is a great team player and they're really willing to help each other out.” - Maliha Hassan, Laboratory Supervisor

Investigator may not be a term that you would immediately associate with a Lab Tech but that’s exactly what they do. They work with the patients records in combination with the results of the Lab work to investigate the cause of patients symptoms. “it’s like putting together a puzzle”, explained Maliha Hassan, Laboratory Supervisor. They are often the first to know if a patient is very ill and they support each other emotionally when the results hit home. We are all human after all.

“Some people think, oh, you know, I’ve got this tube but that tube isn’t just a tool, it’s an actual patient because the testing that we do can help diagnose, for example, end stage renal disease, cancer and leukemia, lymphomas. 90% of the time we are the first people that will see that this patient is not doing well and we do have some employees that take a lot of it to heart. Everybody here cares so much about making sure that patients are getting the right diagnosis and the right care and that everybody in the lab has a huge heart. I mean we all want to make sure the patients is taken care of the best way we can.” - Stewart Frushour, Laboratory Director.

Lab services explained

Phlebotomy

These are the individuals who are trained to draw your blood. More importantly they make sure each and every sample is properly labeled so that your doctor receives an accurate picture of what is going on in your body. This is usually the first piece to the “puzzle” in the investigation of your health.

Core lab

These individuals perform the testing on blood, urine and body fluids that are ordered by physicians to help diagnose various disease states. Some of the commons tests performed here are:

  • Blood Glucose which can aid in the diagnosis of Diabetes or Ketoacidosis
  • Lipid profile which could help the doctor determine if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Liver enzymes which can help diagnose cirrhosis, hepatitis or liver damage
  • Complete blood counts which the doctor can you use to help diagnose anemias, leukemias and infections
  • Urinalysis which can show the doctor if your kidneys are not functioning properly or if you have a urinary tract infection

Microbiology

Have you every been diagnosed with the flu or step? Well these are the individuals who get to see those infectious organisms first! They isolate and identify these unwanted “guests” and allow our doctors to provide the appropriate antibiotic treatment options. If your physician suspects that you have a systemic infection he/she would order a blood culture. These cultures are collected in special bottles that are then monitored continuously for 5 days to see if any bacteria or yeast grow. Any organism that grows is identified and tests are run to see which types of antibiotics can be used to treat it.

Blood bank

These individuals provide compatible blood products for surgical and emergent procedures. Some of the common tests performed here are Blood Type and Cross Match. Ensuring the right type of blood is transfused is critical, if you receive a type of blood that is not compatible with your own it could lead to serious complications including death.

Pathology

Provides services in processing biopsies, large tissues/organs from surgery and bone marrow specimens to identify abnormal cells including but not limited to Cancer. Your doctor will remove the organ tissue or fluid and deliver it to histology. There the organ or tissue is checked for any abnormalities as a whole. Sections of the tissue are then cut and embedded into a cassette where it is preserved and fixed into place. Then very small cuts are made and placed onto a microscope slide. These slides are then stained with special stains that highlight the cellular structures, a pathologist will then look at the tissue microscopically and detect any abnormal cellular growths and structures.

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