With increased volumes, laboratory services was expanded and moved into the West Wing in 2003. There are seven sub-departments in laboratory services and each sub-department has shown increased utilization. GSACH continually adds or replaces the laboratory equipment to make readily available the latest in technology for lab services. The instrumentation alone demands great physical space for utilization. Lab services are vital to all the departments within the hospital. Laboratory testing is essential in the diagnosing and treatment of outpatients and inpatients.
Laboratory services breaks down into seven sub-departments, which include: chemistry, hematology, coagulation, microbiology, urinalysis, serology, and blood bank. Each of these departments provide for specific tests or screenings.
Tests performed in the chemistry department call for rapid screens to profile abnormalities for diagnostic purposes. Basic metabolic panels are routinely requested on inpatients to monitor electrolytes.
Hematology screens the blood and other body fluids for specific results. Complete blood counts (CBCs) may be ordered by a physician to measure red and/or white blood cells. Also, the level of iron in a person’s blood may be measured, and smears of blood maybe be tested to detect any abnormal white cells.
The coagulation department tests blood samples from patients who are on blood thinners. This screen aids in monitoring a patient’s progress.
Microbiology identifies a bacterial organism causing an infection. Sensitivities are conducted to see which antibiotic will be most affective in killing the organism. Various body sites, blood and body fluids are tested in microbiology.
Emergency drug screens and tests for urinary tract infections are processed in urinalysis.
Serology is the process that tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The last department, the blood bank, stores blood and blood products such as plasma and platelets for patients requiring transfusions or have bleeding disorders.
The laboratory staff at GSACH consists of: medical technologists (MT), medical laboratory technicians (MLT), clinical laboratory technicians (CLT), phlebotomists, couriers, a laboratory assistant, a clinical laboratory director, and a medical director.
MTs, MLTs, and CLTs all must be trained and licensed to hold their positions. Mainly, these professionals are able to draw samples and process specimens, and can inter-change throughout all the sub-departments. Members of the laboratory staff rotate through each department to gain insight to the types of tests conducted and to stay current with testing procedures. The lab staff complies with the College of American Pathologists and Department of Health regulations as well as the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. All MTs, MLTs and CLTs must renew their licenses annually. Also, comprising the clinical personnel in the lab are phlebotomists. Phlebotomists are trained to draw blood samples and collect specimens. At GSACH, phlebotomists serve as the laboratory’s first line of contact with patients, and are utilized as field agents to provide outpatient services off of the GSACH campus.
Couriers are utilized to transport specimens to the hospital from the hospital’s contracted lab accounts. Lastly, laboratory assistants are responsible for tracking monthly statistics for contracted accounts, and manage the lab’s database for procedures requested on a daily basis.