Medical Reference Lab

All posts tagged Medical Reference Lab

That’s not how it works.

Published November 7, 2014 by ia84

What follows is something funny that happened at my work this week.  Since I work in a medical reference lab, I see all kinds of specimens.  This can lead me to talk sbout things that aren’t G rated, but I do my best to stay out of R territory.  Consider yourself warned. 

A few days ago at work we received a specimen to be tested for gonherrea & chlamydia.  Two super fun STDs. We get quite a few specimens through our room to be checked for these diseases. Unfortunately, the specimen we received wasn’t your typical submission.  It was synovial fluid from a knee.

Now, this may not seem weird, but keep in mind, we’re talking about STDs.  After 2+ hours on the phone, calling every reference lab we work with, and getting told the specimen was completely unacceptable,  I came to the following conclusion…
If you have to get your knee fluid checked for STDs, you’re doing sex wrong. 

Did You Actually Go To Medical School?

Published August 16, 2014 by ia84

When I was in elementary school, I remember classmates circulating a story about a man who had gone in for surgery, and when he woke up he was missing a leg.  Depending on the person telling the story, he either lost both legs, or an arm and a leg, or both legs and both arms.  I’m pretty sure that at some point, in some telling of the tale, he woke up as the Headless Horseman (and was probably missing all his limbs as well).  I learned two things from this, A. Kid’s imaginations are kind of a gruesome playground, and, B. Don’t have surgery, because the doctor will mix you up with another patient and you WILL die (sans all limbs).

When I was in vet tech school, I remember sitting in surgical procedures class, and having a teacher tell us that it was super important to count all your gauze pads-and anything else that came into contact with the patient-before the patient got stitched up, because you didn’t want Fluffy coming back in for having a sponge left inside her accidentally (and having a severe infection from the foreign body).

You always hear stories like this, and I think on some level I didn’t quite believe them until a few years ago when my grampa was staying at a rehab center after surgery.  Two days before he was due to be released, the nurse gave him another patient’s meds.  Turned out that the other patient was taking high levels of morphine.  I’ve always hoped no one got my grampa’s meds, because he was taking large quantities of Coumadin (a blood thinner, for those who aren’t familiar with it).  Grampa ended up back in the hospital for a few days, and his release date got pushed back another week.

All of these things were enough to make me a little nervous about healthcare, but it wasn’t until I started working at the lab that I truly got scared of healthcare.

Now, let me just point out that there are absolutely amazing and fantastic nurses and doctors out there.  My goal here is not to bash, or cast out a net and say, “All healthcare professionals are this way.”  There are people who truly know what they’re doing and do an excellent job at it.  However, in the last year and a half, I’ve started to wonder how many of them there actually are.

I really love my job.  The work is interesting, and I’ve learned far more in the last year and a half than I ever learned in school.  I work in a medical reference lab.  We’re responsible for running tests that doctor’s offices and hospitals can’t run in-house.  I don’t personally perform any of the testing (I’d need a medical lab tech degree for that, and all I have is my vet tech degree and training as a phlebotomist), but I work in the processing department.  Instead of a long drawn out explanation, just think of it as a combination of quality assurance and client care.  I seem to spend a fair amount of time on the phone with clients, and for every call that is smooth and easy to work through, there seem to be about twenty that make you wish you were having a root canal instead.

For example, recently, I had to call a stat result to a doctor.  Not only did this doctor have zero people skills, but when I told him what I was calling about, what the test was, and what the result of the test was along with the normal reference ranges, he said, “I don’t understand what that means.”  It was all I could do not to reply, “You ordered this test!  This is your patient!  What do you mean you don’t understand?!”  Fortunately, it wasn’t a very unusual test, and after about five minutes I was able to explain it well enough to him that he seemed to have grasped whatever it was he didn’t understand.  I hung up the phone and just sat there feeling pity for his patients.

The thing is, those kinds of calls are not out of the norm.  A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers had to call a nurse because a specimen was received that had to be protected from light and frozen within 30 minutes of collection.  The specimen arrived frozen, but unprotected from light.  The nurse didn’t understand the problem, because she had gotten the specimen in the freezer in the 30 minutes.  My co-worker then had to explain that the specimen also needed to either be wrapped in tin foil (not only does it protect the specimen from light, but it protects it from aliens as well), or put into an amber colored tube.

It scares me when things aren’t labeled, or they’re mislabeled.  It scares me when a medical professional doesn’t know that you use a lavender tube to collect a CBC, instead of a serum tube.  It scares me when they don’t know the difference between serum and plasma.  It scares me when they don’t know how to operate a centrifuge.  It scares me when I have to explain something basic to someone who supposedly has more education than I do.  It scares me when people are more interested in discussing their horoscopes, than they are in doing their job correctly.  I don’t care if you’re a Cancer, I care about making sure that the guy with cancer gets prompt and accurate treatment.

I know that mistakes happen.  I know that doctors and nurses are only human.  Sometimes, though, I have to wonder why some of them decided to work in healthcare.  Must be the great hours and the glamorous uniforms.

Apparently The Evil Copy Machine Was Lonely

Published July 19, 2014 by ia84

So, y’know how in Star Wars nearly every character says, “I have a bad feeling about this.”?  That’s how I felt last Friday after sitting through the 20 minute presentation, “You and Your New Phone From Hell.”  Just kidding, the presentation didn’t have a title.  But, if it had, that is totally what it should have been.

See, for some reason, we had to get rid of the wonderful, fantastic phones with decent reception, and replace them with phones that Crowley would recommend.  And do you know why he’d recommend them?  Because after you’ve disconnected the same client 3+ times in a row, when attempting to transfer them, you start seriously wondering if you’re going to have to sell your soul in a crossroads deal just to make the phones play nice.

Believe me, there is absolutely NOTHING a client loves more than constantly being disconnected.  I’m sure that the irritated, haggard tone their voice takes on is just a mask for how much they’re enjoying the whole experience.

Y’know what else is super fun about the new phone system?  The phone numbers.  None of our old phones had direct numbers.  However, each of the new phones has its own, individualized number.  In theory, this is a good idea.  What’s not a good idea?  The phone company assigning previously owned numbers to these phones.  I’ve spent way too much time this week fielding calls of people trying to reach Farmer’s Insurance.  Most people are pretty startled when they’re calling for an insurance quote, and instead get a medical reference lab.

Maybe the evil phones would be appeased if I sacrificed a chicken…