Understanding Pathology Labs

Understanding Pathology Labs

Understanding Pathology Labs

Many healthcare providers are often unfamiliar with the workings of a pathology lab. A pathologist’s examination of tissues aims to provide a specific, accurate, and comprehensive diagnosis to help a treating physician develop a treatment plan for the patient’s disease. Proper diagnosis by pathologists is required in hundreds of varieties of tumors.

Types of pathology labs

  • Public Health Labs

State and local Health departments run public health laboratories to help diagnose and protect the public from health threats, including infectious disease and outbreaks. These labs are designed for performing tests that monitor the prevalence of diseases in the community, which qualify as public health concerns, such as waterborne illnesses, foodborne illnesses, and outbreaks or the detection of unique, infectious agents.

  • Hospital labs

Nearly every hospital contains a pathology laboratory to support the hospital's offered clinical services. Hospital lab services often include clinical and anatomic pathology. In addition, patients seen by hospital physicians often require tests performed by hospital labs.

  • Reference labs

Commercial private facilities or reference labs usually carry out specialty and high-volume laboratory testing. Facilities such as nursing homes, hospital facilities, and physician’s offices refer to these labs for testing that requires special equipment or specialized tests for further analysis.

Pathology lab members

Most clinical laboratories are composed of a diverse staff.

Anatomic pathology includes autopsy pathology, cytopathology, and surgical pathology and often consists of the following staff members:

  • Histotechnologists

A histotechnologist manages tissue processing in a laboratory and makes slides from the tissue for evaluation by a pathologist. Their job includes fixing the tissue, embedding it in paraffin, sectioning it into slides, and staining the tissue on the slides.

  • Pathology assistants

Pathology assistants help with the description and dissection of surgical cases and biopsies through close work with a supervising pathologist. In addition, PA’s often assist in more technical aspects of interoperative assessment, like frozen sectioning and selection of tissue for clinical trials and research.

  • Cytotechnologist

Cytotechnologists assist in screening specimens composed of small cell samples rather than entire sections of tissue. They refer cases with abnormal cells to pathologists for review after screening and marking diagnostic cells in slides. Common specimens include washings or scrapings of cells and other body fluids and fine needle aspirations.

  • Pathologist

Pathologists are physicians with special training in the detection and diagnosis of disease. They may be general pathologists or perform subspecialty fellowships in specific areas of pathology.
Clinical Pathology, which handles laboratory medicine, includes the following:

  • Phlebotomist

These professionals are trained to draw blood from patients for clinical testing, donations transfusions, or research.

  • Medical lab technicians

Medical lab technicians perform analysis on body fluids and other specimens and laboratory testing to help determine the absence or presence of disease.

  • Ph.D. scientists and pathologists

These trained professionals provide the direction of clinical labs to ensure timely and accurate reporting of lab tests and often serve as a resource for interpreting results to clinicians. These individuals often have training in one or more of the following areas: molecular pathology, clinical chemistry, hematology, microbiology, or immunology and blood banking.

Visit us at hankinslabconsulting.com to learn more about the options available for laboratory buildout when your pathology lab no longer fits your operational needs. We are here to make the process as smooth and fast as possible.

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