Laboratory Medicine


A medical laboratory scientist (MLS) or clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) or medical technologist (MT) performs diagnostic testing of blood and body fluids in clinical laboratories.

The scope of a medical laboratory scientist's work begins with the receipt of patient or client specimens and terminates with the delivery of test results to physicians and other healthcare providers. The utility of clinical diagnostic testing relies squarely on the validity of test methodology. To this end, much of the work done by medical laboratory scientists involves ensuring specimen quality, interpreting test results, data-logging, testing control products, performing calibration, maintenance, validation, and troubleshooting of instrumentation as well as performing statistical analyses to verify the accuracy and repeatability of testing. Medical laboratory scientists may also assist healthcare providers with test selection and specimen collection and are responsible for prompt verbal delivery of critical lab results. An estimated 70% of medical decisions are based on laboratory test results.

The most common tests performed by medical laboratory scientists are complete blood count (CBC), comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), electrolyte panel, liver function tests (LFT), renal function tests (RFT), thyroid function test (TFT), urinalysis, coagulation profile, lipid profile, blood type, semen analysis (for fertility and post-vasectomy studies), serological studies and routine cultures.

Many Medical Laboratory Scientists are generalists, skilled in most areas of the clinical laboratory. However some are specialists, qualified by unique undergraduate education or additional training to perform more complex analyses than usual within a specific field. Specialties include :

Microbiology includes culturing of clinical specimens, including feces, urine, blood, sputum, cerebrospinal fluid, and synovial fluid, as well as possible infected tissue. The work here is mainly concerned with cultures, to look for suspected pathogens which, if found, are further identified based on biochemical tests. Also, sensitivity testing is carried out to determine whether the pathogen is sensitive or resistant to a suggested medicine. Results are reported with the identified organism(s) and the type and amount of drug(s) that should be prescribed for the patient.

Parasitology is where specimens are examined for parasites. For example, fecal samples may be examined for evidence of intestinal parasites such as tapeworms or hookworms.

Virology is concerned with identification of viruses in specimens such as blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid.

Hematology analyzes whole blood specimens to perform full blood counts, and includes the examination of Blood films. Other specialized tests include cell counts on various bodily fluids.

Coagulation testing determines various blood clotting times, coagulation factors, and platelet function.

Clinical biochemistry commonly performs dozens of different tests on serum or plasma. These tests, mostly automated, includes quantitative testing for a wide array of substances, such as lipids, blood sugar, enzymes, and hormones.

Toxicology is mainly focused on testing for pharmaceutical and recreational drugs. Urine and blood samples are the common specimens.

Immunology/Serology uses the process of antigen-antibody interaction as a diagnostic tool. Compatibility of transplanted organs may also be determined with these methods.

Immunohematology, or blood bank determines blood groups, and performs compatibility testing on donor blood and recipients. It also prepares blood components, derivatives, and products for transfusion. This area determines a patient's blood type and Rh status, checks for antibodies to common antigens found on red blood cells, and cross matches units that are negative for the antigen.

Urinalysis tests urine for many analysts, including microscopically. If more precise quantification of urine chemicals is required, the specimen is processed in the clinical biochemistry lab.

Histopathology processes solid tissue removed from the body (biopsies) for evaluation at the microscopic level.

Cytopathology examines smears of cells from all over the body (such as from the cervix) for evidence of inflammation, cancer, and other conditions.

Molecular diagnostics includes specialized tests involving DNA analysis.

Cytogenetics involves using blood and other cells to produce a DNA karyotype. This can be helpful in cases of prenatal diagnosis (e.g. Down's syndrome) as well as in some cancers which can be identified by the presence of abnormal chromosomes.

Surgical pathology examines organs, limbs, tumors, fetuses, and other tissues biopsied in surgery such as breast mastectomies.

 INTERESTING FACT
MEDICAL TECHNOLOGISTS SPECIALTY MAY USE ADDITIONAL CREDENTIALS, SUCH AS  "SBB" (Specialist in Blood Banking) FROM THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF BLOOD BANKS, "SM" (Specialist in Microbiology) FROM THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MIRCROBIOLOGY, "SC" (Specialist in Chemistry) FROM THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR CLINICAL CHEMISTRY, OR "SH" (Specialist in Hematology)FROM THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR CLINICAL PATHOLOGY (ASCP). THESE ADDITIONAL NOTATIONS MAY BE APPENDED TO THE BASE CREDENTIAL, FOR EXAMPLE, "MLS(ASCP)SBB"....Read More

Doctors in this Specialty


Dr. Bal Ramsaran


Laboratory Medicine

  • Trinidad and Tobago
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