Lab professionals, from assistants and medical lab technicians to medical laboratory scientists and DCLS professionals, work behind the scenes to assist physicians with patient diagnosis and treatment, and disease monitoring or prevention. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science calls these professionals vital healthcare detectives—the Sherlocks of the healthcare world who help detect cancer, different types of infectious diseases, heart attacks, and much more. Let’s talk about five reasons that these professionals are critical to patient care.
Laboratory Professionals are Needed!
There are approximately 300,000 practitioners of clinical laboratory science in the United States, but there’s a need for more. Many schools no longer offer programs, which some attribute to a lack of interest. It takes two years of schooling to become a medical laboratory technician (MLT), and four to five years to become a medical laboratory scientist (MLS) (also called medical technologists). The two paths also require different certification exams. In addition to these careers there is also a new Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Sciences (DCLS) which takes an additional 3-4 years training. It is hoped that these new DCLS professionals will one day lead diagnostic management teams which aim to reduce diagnostic errors, reduce the time it takes to diagnose patients and reduce unnecessary testing.
As we all know, labs are full of instruments and equipment but to get accurate results takes knowledge and expertise. Automation plays its part in any lab, but a medical laboratory scientist ensures
‘that the instrumentation used in the laboratory is working correctly. Proper maintenance, reagent quality and fresh quality control materials are vital in assuring the ordering physician knows that the results produced by the laboratory are top quality and precise.’
Laboratory Professionals are Data Driven
Lab technology is ever evolving, and new tests are developed every year that improve the lab’s role in aiding in the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases. Medical laboratory scientists never stop learning and need to stay on top of these new developments to make sure they offer the best service to physicians and, ultimately, patients. They do this by incorporating new diagnostic tests into their test menu, providing a more robust diagnostics for physicians.
Laboratory Professionals Provide the Key to Diagnosis & Treatment
Oftentimes, lab tests are the only way for a physician to confirm a diagnosis. According to InfectionControl.tips, lab professionals provide up to 70 percent of the medical laboratory results and data that physicians and others need in order to make informed decisions about a patients’ diagnosis and treatment. The lab’s vital work includes typing and matching blood for surgery and during emergencies, diagnosing infections such as MRSA to determine the correct antibiotic, analyzing proteins and enzymes to see if the major organ systems are functioning properly, diagnosing bacterial or viral infections, and much more. Lab professionals will also assist the physician with wellness testing, therapeutic drug monitoring, treatment plans, and monitoring patient progress.
Laboratory Professionals Care about Patients
Part of a lab professional’s job is to help improve patient care and efficiency. This goes hand in hand with #3, as it’s important to help reduce unnecessary testing and referrals, saving both time and money, and to improve prevention and early diagnosis. In an era of accountable care, inefficient lab work can lead to higher costs and inferior quality.
Lab professionals never forget that a patient is at the end of every result. Here are some quotes we received from our customers that show how much lab professionals care:
‘Each result is essentially a patient.’.
‘Our results are used to care for the tiniest babies to the biggest kids and all in between!’
Laboratory Professionals are Dedicated
Physicians request results at any time of the day and some results are urgent. Laboratory professionals work tirelessly to ensure that physicians get the results they need when they need them. In the public health setting, lab professionals are vitally important. They confirm the initial results in a suspected breakout and determine the epidemiological story behind an outbreak. Think Coronavirus—how would crises like these be handled without sufficient lab professionals with the knowledge and know-how to identify these threats?
Celebrating Laboratory Professionals
Sekisui Diagnostics appreciates lab professionals and wants to show them we care. Our ChemistryCare team features our specialized Clinical Chemistry Consultants who are healthcare professionals themselves and provide personalized attention. They offer solution-driven support for troubleshooting, improving workflow, lab efficiency and timely service.
Every year the U.S. celebrates “Medical Laboratory Professionals Week” and every year we participate in and organize events to show how we value lab professionals. One event we are proud to support is the ASCLS Lab Week virtual 5K run which is now in its 5th year. As well as being platinum sponsors, many of our Sekisui Diagnostics personnel will be running (virtually) to celebrate the dedication and pride of all those who commit their lives to this profession!