In The Laboratory: How To Work

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In The Laboratory: How To Work
In The Laboratory: How To Work

Video: In The Laboratory: How To Work

Video: In The Laboratory: How To Work
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In the laboratory: how to work

The work in a medical laboratory is carried out by highly qualified employees. The analytical-technical laboratory work is primarily carried out by people who have completed a three-year technical college degree in the field of "Biomedical Analysis" (BMA) or by people from the field of "medical assistant professions" (specialist module laboratory assistant - formerly called "medical technical specialist “) With a total of 1,300 hours of theoretical and practical training.

The medical assessment and interpretation of the laboratory results is the responsibility of the laboratory physician, with this expertise being provided by specialists in medical and chemical laboratory diagnostics. The training to become a laboratory specialist takes at least six years after completing a degree in human medicine in Austria and is completed with a corresponding specialist examination.


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  • Which laboratory methods are used?
  • Automation in the laboratory
  • What are the disadvantages of automation?
  • Manual laboratory methods
  • Partly automated sample processing

With regard to everyday laboratory work in the context of medical and chemical laboratory diagnostics, highly automated examination methods are predominantly used today, which on the one hand has significantly reduced the need for examination materials and, on the other hand, the precision of the examination results and the cost efficiency of laboratory medicine could be increased significantly overall.

Which laboratory methods are used?

A large number of examination materials are processed in the medical laboratory. The most important are

  • Blood,
  • Urine,
  • Chair,
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (cerebrospinal fluid),
  • Special materials such as cough mucus (sputum), puncture fluids, swabs, douches, seminal fluid and much more

Which laboratory methods are used depends on the test material and the medical issues:

  • manual (manual) sample processing,
  • partially automated sample processing: (manual and automated),
  • automated sample processing,
  • microbiological sample processing as well
  • microscopic sample processing.

Automation in the laboratory

The most important trend in modern medical laboratory diagnostics is the automation of laboratory procedures. This means that machines and robots are used in many areas to handle a large part of the repetitive processes:

  • Decoupling of blood tubes,
  • Centrifugation of the samples,
  • Aliquoting of samples,
  • Processing of samples (pipetting and measuring),
  • Archiving of the processed samples (limited in time).

The advantages of laboratory machines:

  • Protection of laboratory personnel from potentially infectious test material. Laboratory automats reduce the manipulation effort of laboratory employees with possibly infectious sample material.
  • Laboratory machines can carry out those work steps that are constantly repeated (pipetting, measuring, etc.) faster and more precisely.
  • Compared to manual methods, laboratory machines use less test material. Overall, therefore, less blood has to be drawn from the patient. Less test material also means less waste - an important factor in terms of the sustainability of modern technologies.

What are the disadvantages of automation?

The automation of laboratory processes has practically no disadvantages. But it would be a misunderstanding to believe that laboratory machines do the laboratory work all by themselves - according to the motto: you pour the blood in at the top and get the laboratory values out below.

Laboratory automats are actually highly complex machines or robots that have to be professionally equipped and operated. Every tiny mistake in the examination process can ultimately lead to incorrect examination results, which can have dramatic consequences for the affected patient. A wrong diagnosis can lead to a wrong therapy (e.g. surgery)!

Laboratory work therefore requires highly qualified and professional employees. State-of-the-art laboratory equipment significantly relieves the workload of the laboratory staff and allows them to turn to more critical laboratory processes:

  • Quality assurance of the laboratory results with regard to correctness, precision and plausibility,
  • Resource optimization: economical and sustainable budgeting,
  • Special diagnostics:

    • special hematology (leukemia and lymphoma diagnostics),
    • special haemostaseology (advanced blood coagulation diagnostics: haemophilia = tendency to bleed, thrombophilia = tendency to thrombosis),
    • Blood group serology and transfusion medicine,
    • Allergy and autoimmunology diagnostics,
    • Molecular genetics,
    • Infection diagnostics and microbiology as well
    • Cell diagnostics (cytology).

Manual laboratory methods

In addition to the laboratory machines, there are also a number of examination procedures in modern medical laboratories that have to be carried out manually.

The manual methods include:

  • Rapid swab tests to examine certain infectious diseases (e.g. scarlet fever),
  • microbiological methods for typing and determining the resistance of bacterial pathogens,
  • molecular biological methods for the genetic investigation of pathogens,
  • special molecular genetic diagnostics for testing hereditary diseases,
  • medical microscopy for

    • Examination of blood and bone marrow smears (leukemia and lymphoma diagnostics).
    • Diagnosis of autoimmune diseases,
    • Bacterioscopy (morphological examination of certain bacteria - for example tuberculosis bacteria),
    • Cell diagnostics (cytology): microscopic-morphological diagnostics of cancer cells in tumor diseases.

The manual methods in particular are sometimes associated with a lot of work. In addition, the employees for these laboratory areas often need years or decades of expertise in order to be able to work in the corresponding specialist areas.

Partly automated sample processing

So-called partially automated processes are also used in some laboratory areas. An example of this are in particular analytical-chemical investigation methods such as

  • High pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) or
  • Mass spectrometry.

These laboratory methods usually involve manual sample preparation followed by automated sample processing.

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