You go to the doctor, get some tests done, and those tests are seemingly sent somewhere into the medical abyss. But, where do they really go? They end up at a laboratory - like one at Little Falls Hospital.
We do a lot of chemistry tests here," says Melissa Bicknell, a Medical Technologist, "chemistry is mostly the study of liquid portion of the blood but we do Hematology also which studies the cells in the blood...We also do blood banking...we do glucoses, cholesterol tests."
And the list goes on. Medical technologists like Bicknell become involved in medical procedures that can involve blood transfusions, all the way to diagnosing certain disorders - like anemia or leukemia. She explains one of the instruments used to test certain specimens.
"It goes in - there's a little sample probe that goes into each specimen, it checks to make sure there's enough sample there and then it picks up the sample brings it over, and then the instrument makes its own cuvette," she says, "Each one of these wells is a test, like some of these are protein, glucose, it adds the re-agents that it needs...it incubates it and then in there is what's called a source lamp and the source lamp shines a light...and then there's an absorbance monitor that will read the change in color and know what the result is based on that."
But Bicknell says you can't just rely on the machine. She says the most important part of her job is making sure to read everything to ensure accurate results, quickly.
"Basically 70% of what a doctor determines with a patient, like diagnosis and stuff, is based on lab results," says Bicknell
To ensure accuracy, she says they constantly run system checks and quality control tests.
Once the machine has determined the results, it prints out its findings, goes through the computer to the doctor, and then to you, the patient.