‘It’s Alright, Cuz You’re Saved By The Lab’ is the slogan for this year’s Medical Laboratory Professional week, which is April 23-29! It is an annual celebration of Medical Laboratory Professionals and Pathologists who play a vital role in healthcare and patient advocacy.
Here at Windom Area Health we have 8 professionals on our laboratory team. We are available to test patient’s samples 24 hours a day/7 days a week for Inpatient, Outpatient, and Emergency Department patients. We use a variety of laboratory analyzers and other equipment, such as microscopes and centrifuges. It is estimated that 70-80% of the laboratory results aid in the provider’s diagnosis and treatment of a patient.
Laboratory is divided into different areas: Phlebotomy, Hematology, Coagulation, Chemistry, Blood Bank, Microbiology, Urinalysis and EKG.
Phlebotomy: We perform approximately 4,000 venipunctures last year, which is obtaining a sample from a vein. We label the tubes that we draw with bar-coded labels that will be automatically read by our analyzers and results automatically go into our Laboratory Information System, LIS. We also perform arterial punctures with is from an artery and capillary punctures, which is from a finger or heel of a newborn.
Hematology: This area studies the blood cells – Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC), and Platelets. We can help the provider diagnosis acute and chronic disease states, such as Leukemias, Anemias, and Infections.
Coagulation: This is the study of clotting time of blood. If these tests are abnormal, a patient may be prone to excess bleeding or bruising. Patients that are on anti-coagulation medication also need to be monitored closely.
Chemistry: This area would test your blood for analytes or enzymes from certain organs. They would include blood sugar, kidney functions, cholesterol, thyroid functions, cardiac functions, liver functions, and electrolytes.
Blood Bank: WAH normally has 16 units of blood available for transfusions: five O+, five A+, two O-, two B+, and two A-. When a patient needs a transfusion, we would type the patient, screen them for unexpected antibodies and crossmatch a unit of blood to see if it is compatible to give to the patient. We also test most Obstetric patients before they deliver their babies, to eliminate potential complications.
Microbiology: This department would set up cultures from various sites to identify bacteria that could be causing an infection. We also will perform a susceptibility of certain antibiotics to give options of the best antibiotic to treat the infection to the providers.
Urinalysis and Urine Drugs of Abuse: We analyze urine samples to screen for kidney and metabolic diseases. This would include infections, kidney stones, and diabetes. We also can screen patient samples for 13 different drugs of abuse for medical diagnosis.
EKG: An EKG is a tracing of a patient’s heart rhythm. It is used in the aid of diagnosing a Myocardial Infarction or Heart Attack.
All analyzers are checked daily for proper function to ensure that the laboratory results that are reported are precise and accurate. All other equipment such as refrigerators, centrifuges and incubators are also monitored for proper functions.
We are proud of our laboratory team. You can trust your lab results…..cuz you’re SAVED BY THE LAB! Learn more about our Laboratory Department by going to our page or call 507-831-2400 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
By Jill Liepold, CLT(HHS), Laboratory Manager