Does the System of Sending Samples to Clinical Laboratories Work?
Clinical laboratory testing has always played an integral role in the diagnosis and monitoring of many diseases. Clinical laboratories offer a wide range of laboratory tests that may be chemical, biological, bacteriological, immunological, or hematological. As such, these laboratories require a suite of highly trained professionals in several disciplines with keen analytical and interpretation skills. The range of professionals allows for collaboration and better interpretation of results and results that are not clear cut can benefit from the input of several specialists.
Advantages of Lab Testing
Some tests require the use of highly specialized equipment as well as personnel to get meaningful results. Equipment must be standardized and maintained to give accurate and reliable results when used for laboratory tests and as such, clinical laboratories are staffed with maintenance personnel who can properly service this equipment.
Clinical laboratories must also adhere to strict quality control protocol for lab testing, time-sensitive handling of specimens, their storage, and disposal. Handling hazardous specimens or materials is necessary for some testing scenarios and clinical laboratories are well equipped with facilities for handling such. Isolation areas and laminar flow hoods within laboratories are examples of areas that allow the containment of harmful organisms or material.
Presently there are only a few tests that can be done outside of the clinical laboratory testing facility to assist doctors in disease diagnosis so sending samples to labs for testing is necessary. Accuracy and reliability of results and reports help to ensure good patient outcomes. In several diseased states such as Cancer and Kidney Disease, with special emphasis on patients on chemotherapy and dialysis, patients must be monitored by sending samples for laboratory testing at regular intervals. Here, many parameters are monitored so timely adjustments or interventions can be made to enhance patient outcomes.
To be meaningful, tests must be standardized internally and externally and clinical laboratories usually have a quality management system that governs their day-to-day operations and is regulated by the Clinical Laboratory and Standards Institute. Compliance with these regulatory bodies ensures accurate and reliable results.
Disadvantages of Lab Testing
Very few disadvantages come to mind when thinking about the system of sending samples to clinical laboratories. Possible mishandling of samples by personnel may provide opportunities for erroneous results. Also, in some cases where an immediate answer is needed, there is a delay period that could result in a bad patient outcome. If testing could be done on-site this could result in a faster turnaround time for diagnosis and eliminate this problem.
Sending a sample to the laboratory | Royal Brompton & Harefield hospitals. (2021). Rbht.nhs.uk. https://www.rbht.nhs.uk/our-services/clinical_support/laboratories/clinical-genetics-and-genomics-laboratory/sending-sample-laboratory
- Cecilia Arias