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A medical laboratory or clinical laboratory is a laboratory where tests are done on clinical specimens in order to get information about the health of a patient as pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Laboratory medicine is generally divided into two sections, each of which being subdivided into multiple units. These two sections are anatomic pathology and clinical pathology.

Distribution of clinical laboratories in health institutions varies greatly from one place to another.

The staff of medical laboratories may include:

  • Pathologist
  • Clinical biochemist
  • Pathologist’s assistant (PA)
  • Medical laboratory scientist (MT, MLS or CLS)
  • Medical laboratory technician (MLT)
  • Medical laboratory assistant (MLA)
  • Phlebotomist (PBT)

In many countries, there are two main types of labs that process the majority of medical specimens. Hospital laboratories are attached to a hospital, and perform tests on patients. Private (or community) laboratories receive samples from general practitioners, insurance companies, clinical research sites and other health clinics for analysis.

These can also be called reference laboratories where more unusual and obscure tests are performed. These include Mayo Medical Laboratories, ARUP Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. For extremely specialized tests, samples may go to a research laboratory. Many samples are sent between different labs for uncommon tests. It is more cost effective if a particular laboratory specializes in a rare test, receiving specimens (and money) from other labs, while sending away tests it cannot perform.

Laboratories today are held together by a system of software programs and computers that exchange data about patients, test requests, and test results known as a laboratory information system or LIS. The LIS is interfaced with the hospital information system.
This system enables hospitals and labs to order the correct test requests for each patient, keep track of individual patient or specimen histories, and help guarantee a better quality of results as well as printing hard copies of the results for patient charts and doctors to check.

Credibility of medical laboratories is paramount to the health and safety of the patients relying on the testing services provided by these labs. The international standard in use today for the accreditation of medical laboratories is ISO 15189. In the United States, under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), accreditation of medical laboratories is done by the Joint Commission, College of American Pathologists, AAB (American Association of Bioanalysts), and other state and federal agencies. CLIA 88 or the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments also dictate testing and personnel.

Opportunity for Labs to Help with Opioid Crisis

IT’S CALLED THE OPIOD CRISIS AND IT’S OFTEN A MAJOR STORY in the nightly news. In 2017, deaths from drug overdoses totaled 70,237, of which 68% (47,600) were opioid overdose deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the nation, government health officials and healthcare providers struggle to address the problems of opioid

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Northwell Health Lab Team Leverages Data to Add Value

CEO SUMMARY: Today, insurers get risk-adjusted payments for treating patients who have high-cost health conditions and they make risk-adjusted payments to physicians, hospitals, and other providers. At Northwell Health, the clinical lab saw the opportunity to leverage lab test data with other clinical and demographic data to identify patients who were undiagnosed or whose conditions were

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Dr. Papanicolaou Honored by Google Doodle on May 13

Pathologists and medical laboratory professionals the world over had a surprise on May 13 if they used Google for an Internet search. The doodle on the Google search home page honored pathologist Dr. Georgios Papanicolaou, who developed the Pap smear test used to screen for cervical cancer.

Papanicolaou was born in 1883 in Greece. He studied medicine in Greece and

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WakeMed Uses Drone to Deliver Patient Specimens

CEO SUMMARY: For two years, clinical lab professionals at WakeMed Health and Hospitals have tested the use of aerial drones to transport patient specimens from a physicians’ office satellite lab/draw station to the WakeMed Medical Center’s central lab. Late last month, they completed the first successful revenue-generating commercial transport of lab supplies by drone in

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What Have We Done for You Lately?

Our Editor-In-Chief just finished the daunting task of confirming 125 speakers for more than 80 sessions for our 24th annual Executive War College on Lab and Pathology Management. It is our biggest conference ever! These facts are significant to you for an important reason.

The planning phase for an Executive War College requires requires hundreds of

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In Tough Times, All Labs Need Success Strategies

By any measure, it is tougher today for clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups to generate the revenue needed to deliver state-of-the-art diagnostic testing services while remaining financially viable. Four recent trends prove the point.

First, every year, the Medicare program and private health insurers are cutting the prices they pay for medical laboratory tests.

Second, most

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