On the Frontlines of Healthcare: Medical Laboratory Professionals

By the bioMérieux Connection Editors

Lab professionals may rarely be seen by patients, but their heroic contributions to patient health and safety do not go unnoticed. Every day, clinical laboratory professionals perform thousands of tests that are crucial to ensuring accurate diagnoses and treatments that can help save patients’ lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 billion lab tests are ordered annually in the U.S. and 70% of medical decisions depend on laboratory results.

Lab professionals use specialized instruments and techniques to analyze patient samples, such as blood, urine, body fluids, tissue, and stool. They may be in a lab located in the hospital or clinic where  the patient is being treated or they could be hundreds of miles away in a reference laboratory. However, no matter their proximity to the patient, they produce results that directly affect patient care.

Strong clinical laboratories provide the foundation for accurate and timely disease diagnosis, prevention, and control. Across the U.S., there are around 260,000 Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified laboratories. These labs represent the cornerstone of diagnostic medicine and would cease to exist without the dedicated work of laboratory professionals.

Laboratory Professionals’ Role in Combating COVID-19

In addition to their day-to-day activities, lab professionals tackle threats to our national security and health, such as disease outbreaks. They have played critical roles in combating COVID-19, including working around the clock to ensure that all tests for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens are performed quickly and accurately.

“We really need to hail the pathologists, medical technologists, and other laboratory professionals who are becoming unsung heroes of the COVID pandemic,” noted Dr. Kathleen Beavis, spokesperson for the College of American Pathologists and Laboratory Director at the University of Chicago, in an interview with ABC News.

Laboratories around the country have been addressing the pandemic by adding testing platforms and increasing resources. In addition, many clinical research laboratories around the world have paused their regular work to pursue additional tests, treatments, and vaccines for the novel coronavirus. Their work has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in the fight against COVID-19.

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week 2020 (April 19 – 25)

Now, more than ever, is the chance for Americans to thank our unseen clinical laboratory heroes. Each year, Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW or Lab Week) celebrates the people who provide critical diagnostic information to help save lives, and shows appreciation for the vital work they perform. During Lab Week, and every day, we appreciate clinical laboratory professionals, who are on the frontlines of the nation’s health alongside fellow healthcare workers.

bioMérieux, Inc. is celebrating Lab Week by hosting a series of six on-demand webinars to emphasize the importance of the laboratory and incite discussion around some of the challenges clinical laboratories face today. P.A.C.E.® Credits will be available after viewing each webinar.

bioMérieux, Inc. and Labroots are approved as a providers of continuing education programs in the clinical laboratory sciences by the ASCLS P.A.C.E.® Program.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.

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