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May 5, 2011

Healthy Living looks at the resume of medical laboratory technology

There are countless specializations in the medical field. A trip to the hospital or clinic will often involve a visit with a doctor or nurse. But there are other professionals performing just as important services. Often you may be asked to do blood test; that is the job of a medical laboratory technologist who also performs other duties such as assisting doctors and researchers in the laboratory to evaluate results, procedures and so forth. This week in Healthy Living we talk to a professional involved in this field.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Most of our interaction with Health professionals is confined to doctors and nurses. When a patient seeks medical advice there are number of people involved in the process. One overlooked health professional usually takes a microscopic look at each individual patient.  Unknowingly as patients, we rely heavily on them for professionalism and accuracy.

Jaime Correa

Jaime Correa, Medical Lab Technologist

“For many years, medical laboratory professionals have been overlooked. Many times you’d go to the doctor and then send them for tests and you’d hear the parents tell their children ‘go mek the nurse draw yu blood’ things like that. That’s a total misconception. There are laboratory professionals who do these jobs.”

Jaime Correa is a Medical Lab Technologist and manger of the Belize Pathology Services.  He explains the role of the lab technologist.

Jaime Correa

“A medical laboratory technologist is a clinical scientist.  whereby we are the ones will conduct laboratory tests to confirm is there is illness we conduct test all types of bodily fluids whether it be it blood, urine, cerebral, spinal fluid any fluid that the body has.”

Even the person who draws the sample of blood is a specialist called a phlebotomist. Also specifically trained in how to withdraw the specimen and information needed to conduct lab tests.

Jaime Correa

“Before reaching the lab there are certain things that need to be taken into consideration. One is the proper identification of the patient. Why is that important? Because we need to have an age range for when we report results.  So it’s very important for us to have proper documentation of the patient in terms of date of birth what tests they want to do because depending on what they want to do will determine what sample we’ll need to take.  Most people do not have direct lab access to seeing who their lab technician are but they do get to experience the results of what a med lab tech does. When they pick up their results and they go back to the doctor and they discover that they have an illness that they suspected. But we confirmed it.”

In fact, a proper diagnosis can only be made through both your doctor and your medical lab technologist.

Jaime Correa

“Once they come to pick up results it is definitely recommended that they visit the doctor. The doctor is the only one who can interpret results. Many times patients come to ask us to interpret results but we have limitations and that is one of them. We perform tests, we know what they mean but we are not able to interpret it to the patient because the information that we get from the patient has to correlate with the clinical history of the patient. The clinical history of the patient will be combined with the diagnostic test and the only one who would have access to all of these would be the doctor.  We have a very close relationship with our doctors. Sometimes they would come in here to get their results themselves but it’s very important because at the end of the day we’re dealing with patients so the patients need to feel that we are taking care of their situation and the doctors do assist a lot in that.”

With approximately one hundred Medical lab Technologists in Belize, the need for a governing body became necessary. Correa is the president of the newly formed Belize Association of Medical Lab Professionals.

Jaime Correa

“One of the main things that guide us is most definitely confidentiality. I think in general any place that has a lot of information is a laboratory and our code of ethics demand that we abide by strict rules of confidentiality.  More than anything else that we are able to monitor discrepancies that happen within our career, I think a lot of people have seen that out-district especially where people would just randomly open laboratory without any type of certification or any type of screening. So that need to actually have a regulatory body we decided to come up with this association.”

And with a governing body realized, the quality of service can be monitored by their peers. Medical Laboratory Scientists are professionals with sophisticated knowledge in their field and certainly play a vital role in healthcare.

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