This week is National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week.
They are all the people who you never see but couldn't get the right diagnosis or proper health care without them. We are dedicating our Avera Medical Minute this week to all of you who handle all those test tubes, chemicals, computers and instruments and rarely get the recognition. We begin in the Avera Heart Hospital lab.
The lab is the CSI of health care.
Heart Hospital Lab Director Deb Piper says, "80% of information the physician needs comes from the lab."
At the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota in Sioux Falls, the lab plays a vital role in getting patients who come in to the emergency department with chest pain the proper diagnosis.
Deb says, "What we find is when they have some heart damage there's a test called troponin that helps the physician."
Director of the Emergency Department and Chest Pain Center, Dr. John Jerstad says, "It's so great to have a lab that will respond to your needs right away. You know, so many crucial decisions are based on what we find out in the lab and they have an extremely fast turn around time."
Any body fluid that comes in to the lab will be run through some sort of centrifuge. They vary in time but when the sample comes out it will separate the plasma from the blood and it goes into the coagulation instrument.
Deb says, "We are part of the team that helps evaluate the patient. Our tests along with tests done by other departments give the physician the info they need to give the proper diagnosis. If the patient insists he's having some sort of heart condition and our tests can't confirm it, then we need to find out what's causing that compression."
Dr. Jerstad says, "We are the hands of a big system and without the lab we wouldn't have the proper tools."
And if you are having a heart attack, isn't it nice to know, it will be all hands on deck to get you the help you need.
Eleven people work in the Avera Heart Hospital lab, and for whatever reason, Deb says they are typically busiest over the lunch hour because that's when people tend to come in to the Emergency Department.