Inside the Lab

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Flip a switch and the lights go on. Turn the tap and you can get a cold glass of water. Give a sample of blood or urine and you get information about your health. That’s how laboratory tests have worked until recently. Except for the relationship you have with the person who takes the sample from you, it is rare that you get a glimpse at the many people involved in generating a laboratory test result. Nor do you get the opportunity to learn what happens after the specimen, or test sample, disappears from view. As laboratories take on an increasingly prominent role in health care, understanding what happens behind the scenes is almost as important as knowing what your test results mean. The articles listed below have been prepared to give you an insight into the laboratory and how it functions.

Blood Banking
This article provides a glimpse into four key aspects of blood banking: 1) donating blood, 2) protecting the blood supply, 3) ensuring its proper use, and 4) the risks involved for donors as well as recipients.

Follow That Sample: A Short Lab Tour
In this online tour, you can follow two samples - a blood sample and a throat culture - to get a glimpse at what you don't normally get to see: what happens to your sample once it leaves your sight.

Laboratory Accreditation: the basis for confidence
This article will help you to understand the many processes in place to ensure that laboratories produce reliable and accurate test results.

Where Lab Tests Are Performed
Laboratory testing is performed in many different settings, from the large highly automated laboratory that perform thousands of tests per day to your own home, where you might monitor your blood glucose concentrations. This article explores the important differences among the various testing settings.