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  • Here's Another Opportunity to Help Physicians and Patients

    In a recent article, Dr. Diane Shannon talked very poignantly of the reason she left the practice of medicine. Shannon said she was burnt out and wanted to be another addition to the statistic that suicide is higher among female physicians than among females in the general population. That sounds like hyperbole until you hear how much this ...
  • Questioning Physicians

    The other day a physician ordered a platelet count to be recollected and repeated off lavender and blue top tubes. The patient platelet count had dropped from 229 thousand to 102 thousand in 24 hours, a sudden change. The tech performed the work but grumbled to me the next morning. “He doesn’t trust our lab results! I told him there was ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on September 4, 2013
  • Use the Gram Stain

    In microbiology we learn to use the Gram stain results of a direct smear to check specimen quality (usually by a count of squamous epithelial cells) and any predominating organisms (e.g. lancet shaped Gram positive cocci on a sputum) that suggest what to work up. All good micro techs use the Gram stain. Intracellular organisms are an immediate ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on May 24, 2013
  • Why Doctors Abuse Lab Tests

    One of the most frustrating   issues for clinical laboratorians is that clinicians continue to misuse laboratory testing. Laboratory utilization is a hot potato because of increased concerns with cost (to the laboratory and payer), extended length of stay  abnormal test gets worked up) and patient concerns (Am I sick? What does this ...
  • Junky Cultures

    It would be great if we received cultures from only sites expected to be sterile: blood, deep wounds, body fluids. In areas where the immune system gobbles up microscopic critters, properly collected positive cultures are instructive. The physician is interested in the Gram stain result, waits for the culture, and speaks to the microbiologist ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on August 8, 2012
  • Lab Order Sets

    Traditionally, an inpatient medical record contains handwritten physician orders that are a mix of transcribed orders (e.g. a doctor telephones a nurse to request lab tests), free text orders written in a stream of consciousness style, and printed forms with orders for certain situations or care plans. Should the laboratory design preprinted ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on July 20, 2012
  • Physician Complaints

    We as laboratory professionals should take advantage of opportunities to educate physicians. But physicians work side by side with nurses and not laboratory technologists, so “education” often happens after a mistake or complaint. Much of this is second hand -- we end up educating nurses not trained to interpret laboratory testing -- but it ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on November 30, 2011
  • How Do We Sell Ourselves?

    On a student site I read this: ... many tests and procedures are becoming more simplified and can be conducted by physicians and even the patients themselves, thus reducing the need for clinical lab technicians and assistants in some areas of health care. An administrator once said, “The trend is toward home testing. Patients will run their ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on October 24, 2011
  • Contagion: A Nice Nod to the Lab Community

    I just saw the blockbuster movie Contagion and must say I was pretty impressed. When I watch a medical-themed movie, I always look at it with a critical eye. How factual is it? Is it authentic in terms of scenarios, equipment, procedures and vocabulary?I look for how realistically roles are portrayed. For example I tend to roll my eyes and become ...
  • Speak For Yourself

    Industrialist Henry Kaiser (think steel, aluminum, and Permanente) said, ''When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt.'' While our work speaks for us, others see us as test menus and reports with – perhaps – a vague notion of instruments, microscopes, and acronyms from watching House. Or – worse – our expertise is extrapolated from an ...
    Posted to Stepwise Success (Weblog) on January 6, 2010
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