Laboratory Services: detecting health information from your medical tests
by Georgia Carr, Manager of Laboratory Services
Although it’s a part of the Hospital you may never see, the clinical laboratory is a critical part of your care at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Throughout your hospital stay – and often beyond – the lab plays a vital role detecting, diagnosing, and treating disease.
The lab operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Close to 140 health care professionals work in the lab, including pathologists, medical laboratory technologists, phlebotomists, and support staff. These highly trained people work mainly behind the scenes, but they touch patients’ lives each and every day. They perform complex analyses on blood, body fluids and tissues. In as timely a manner as possible, the results are provided to clinicians to help in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
- 2.4 million tests: That’s how many lab test were performed in 2016.
- 70% of all clinical treatment decisions are based on diagnostic lab tests.
- Each year, our lab receives over 18,000 surgical specimens to analyze.
Our Hospital serves the vast area of Northwestern Ontario. In the course of a year, tens of thousands of patients need lab tests. Advances in science and technology mean improved methods of detecting disease and more activity in the lab.
It’s important to keep up with new lab technology and equipment to provide safe service and care. Last year, thanks to donations, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation purchased two new, state of the art analyzers for the lab. One is for Transfusion Medicine, which prepares the lab for the future cardiovascular surgery program. The other is for Flow Cytometry, to better serve patients of our Regional Cancer Care program. For example, it supports lymphoma & leukemia diagnosis and HIV monitoring. Further funding to the lab will support an update to the pathology department.
The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Clinical Laboratory provides a range of lab tests, primarily for in-patients. Areas of specialty are:
- Hematology & Biochemistry (core lab): the study of cells & analytes,
- Transfusion Medicine: for infusion of necessary products, i.e., anemia/donor packed red blood cells,
- Microbiology: the identification/antibiotic sensitivity of microorganisms, and
- Pathology: the identification of tissue removed from the human body, i.e., cancer reporting.