#1: 70% of diagnoses are dependent on laboratory testing • Chest pain? • Lab testing helps distinguish a heart attack from indigestion • Gut pain? • Lab tests tell your doctor if it’s appendicitis . • Is your child lethargic with swollen lymph nodes and fever? • Lab tests will differentiate leukemia from mononucleosis.
#2: Physicians may not explain lab results to their patients • Be sure to ask for copies of your lab results and have the doctor explain them. • You can go to Lab Tests Online to get free explanations of laboratory tests (www.labtestsonline.org) .
#3: Dr. “McDreamy” on Grey’s Anatomy may be dreamy but he doesn’t do his patient’s lab testing • Most laboratory testing is performed by educated laboratory professionals with degrees in Medical Laboratory Sciences • Contrary to what you may see on TV, diagnostic labs are professional workplaces -- smoking, eating and drinking are NOT allowed in the laboratory.
#4: You can trust your laboratory results • Laboratory quality control programs are extensive and prevent errors in your final lab report. • “Lab errors” are rare • when they do happen they are usually due to errors that occurred before or after the actual laboratory analysis. • If you need to have another specimen collected it’s probably because: • the specimen was mislabeled • the wrong test was ordered • the specimen was sent to the lab in the wrong collection container
Be your own advocate! Know before you go! http://ascls.org/images/patient_safety/venipuncture_patient_safety.pdf
#5: There is a shortage of laboratory professionals • Employment in the Medical Laboratory Science profession is expected to grow by 14% (per Bureau of Labor Statistics) • 11,000 new professionals will be needed each year through 2018 • Educational programs are only graduating 6,000 professionals per year Average age of the MLS practitioner is ~47 years old Retirement mass exodus in 10-15 years coming soon to a lab near you
#6: Laboratory testing requires sophisticated technology • Laboratory testing is more than just pushing buttons. • Medical laboratory science professionals need problem solving, questioning, and reasoning skills. • Laboratory results require review, interpretation and correlation before they are released… only educated professionals can do that. true negative? false positive? false negative? true positive?
#7: Know whois doing your laboratory testing • Be an informed consumer. • Where is your testing being done? • Is the lab accredited? • Do they only hire certified/licensed professionals? • Only 12 states and Puerto Rico require licensing for those who do your testing.
#8: Fasting or adhering to certain dietary restrictions is required before some tests • Certain chemical constituents can change temporarily after eating • Testing too soon after eating may not provide an accurate assessment of chemical constituent concentration Example: Testing for blood sugar and triglycerides. • Before having any blood test, check with your laboratory professional or doctor for special instructions
#9: Lab results can vary on the same test performed at different laboratories • Laboratories may have different instrumentation and reagent suppliers. This is why reference (normal) ranges can vary slightly from lab to lab • Slight changes in your results from time to time within the same lab may not be significant
Be your own advocate! Know before you go! http://ascls.org/images/patient_safety/fasting_patient_safety_tips.pdf
#10: Home testing kits are useful but may not be as accurate as tests performed in an accredited laboratory • If you perform testing using a home test kit, be sure to follow the directions exactly or the results may not be reliable. For more information go to www.labtestsonline.org .
Acknowledgements • This presentation is brought to you by the Promotion of the Profession Committee of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. • Special thanks go out to Shirlyn McKenzie, Ph.D., MLS, SH(ASCP)cm for authoring the original article upon which this presentation is based.