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Inside the Lab

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Except for the relationship you have with the person who takes your test sample, such as blood, it is rare that you get a glimpse of the many people involved in generating a laboratory test result. Nor do you get much opportunity to learn what happens after the specimen disappears from view.

As labs take on an increasingly prominent role in health care – in some states, patients are permitted to order lab tests without a doctor's prescription – understanding what happens behind the scenes is almost as important as knowing what can be learned from your test results. The articles listed below have been prepared to give you a better sense of the lab and how it functions.

Transfusion Medicine
Learn about transfusion medicine and blood banking. Transfusion medicine is the branch of medicine that is concerned with the process of collecting (donation), testing, processing, storing, and transfusing blood and its components. It is a cornerstone of emergency and surgical medicine. Blood banks are sections of clinical laboratories that process, test, and distribute blood and its components.

Patient Blood Management
Patient Blood Management (PBM) is an evidence-based approach used by clinicians to optimize a patient’s current medical condition in order to ensure successful recovery. Its main focus is on preventing anemia and/or blood loss, but it also involves investigating and treating anemia when present.

Lab Oversight: A Building Block of Trust
High standards of quality for clinical laboratories are maintained by federal and state government, laboratory professional organizations, and individual laboratories themselves.

Where Lab Tests Are Performed
Medical tests are performed by hospital laboratories, independent clinical reference laboratories, public health laboratories, hospitals, clinics, at home or through direct access laboratories

Follow That Sample: A Short Lab Tour
In this online tour, you can follow two samples - a blood sample and a throat culture - to get a glimpse at what you don't normally get to see: what happens to your sample once it leaves your sight.

Who's Who in the Lab: A Look at Laboratory Professionals
Meet techs, pathologists, laboratorians, and phlebotomists, learn about the roles and qualifications of the many skilled professionals of clinical laboratories