Behind the Scenes of the Cooper Clinic Laboratory
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Patients who visit Cooper Clinic receive the highest quality of care available, including top-notch service behind the scenes in the laboratory. The Clinic’s same-day lab results and swift communication between the lab team and physicians is one of the six major components of the Cooper Clinic preventive exam. Peggy Blalock, Laboratory Manager, has been at the forefront of designing and building labs all over the world, including Brazil, Cuba and Belarus. Her knowledge and experience, along with that of her team, keeps Cooper Clinic’s lab running efficiently and accurately for the benefit of the patients. Blalock and Belinda Rivera, Medical Technologist, explain what really happens in the time between a patient’s blood draw and the subsequent discussion with his or her physician.
The Role of the Lab
“The role of our lab is to provide quality results in a timely manner,” explains Blalock. “This allows our physicians the opportunity to talk with patients on the same day, which is what makes Cooper Clinic very unique.” Lab results are the first clue most doctors have regarding the status of your health, and approximately 70 percent of all diagnoses are made through lab tests.
Once a patient and his or her physician have the opportunity to discuss lab results, the patient can then take the knowledge of their lab numbers and use it to make necessary lifestyle adjustments, such as an improved diet, more frequent exercise and other behavior modification. “Your lab numbers give you an idea of where you are versus where you should be,” says Blalock. “They can help you set achievable and measurable health-related goals.” The lab runs a full chemistry panel, which includes lipids and glucose as well as vitamin D and Hemoglobin A1C. Other tests are done as necessary for each yearly comprehensive workup.
The Cooper Clinic lab processes tests for 35-40 patients per day, which totals close to 300,000 tests each year. Though this may seem like a low number for a bustling laboratory, Rivera notes that each test is treated as a STAT test – meaning each blood sample is processed as quickly as possible in order to provide results within two hours. “Because we perform each test as quickly as possible, we actually produce results faster than many STAT labs,” she says.
Rapid test results allow patients at Cooper Clinic to discuss lab results openly with their physician and determine next steps, including any need for further testing. Same-day results can alleviate anxiety for patients and also provides each physician a more well-rounded picture of each patient’s health.
Accuracy is Key
Though the lab produces rapid results day in and day out, precision and quality control are at the forefront of each technologist’s mind. “Most of our clinical laboratory scientists have advanced degrees and are highly specialized, so they must know and understand the methodology of each process and instrument,” explains Blalock.
Quality control is a vital component of day-to-day activity within the lab – a standard deviation is checked every day. “We are constantly reviewing and evaluating data to ensure accuracy and precision,” says Blalock. “There’s not a lot of room for variance, and when we look at numbers, we can determine if there is a problem and where it is coming from.” Though a large part of each technologist’s day is consumed by running tests and managing results, the lab team also spends a significant amount of time performing quality control and quality assurance activities to ensure accurate results.
New Technology and a New Space
The technology used by the Cooper Clinic lab puts it at a distinct advantage when it comes to providing accurate same-day results. Housed in its brand new lab space, the Abbott ARCHITECT uses advanced, patented technology and has been recognized as the best instrument on the market for accuracy and precision. This instrument produces many test results in a short amount of time, which is key for meeting the standards Cooper Clinic upholds. “Many small to moderate size labs aren’t willing to invest in large volume instrumentation capable of producing results as quickly as we do,” explains Rivera. “Though we have a lower volume of tests due to the personalized nature of Cooper Clinic, we are dedicated to producing results rapidly and accurately.”
The Cooper Clinic lab has received the COLA (Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation) Laboratory Excellence Award the last nine years. This means the lab has had no citations, a feat only four percent of labs in the United States achieve.
For more information about Cooper Clinic and how lab screenings are an integral part of the clinic’s standard preventive exam, visit cooper-clinic.com or call 972.560.2667.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communciations.