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Most people who have visited a doctor or a hospital have probably heard the phrase “send it to the lab” before. Unfortunately, they are often poorly understood by the general public. Understanding how a medical laboratory in California works can help you better understand how your diseases are diagnosed with the information that they provide.
- This term indicates that specimens, such as blood or urine, are being taken to a medical laboratory.
- These vital centers are one of the most important aspects of the medical treatment process.
The Basic Functions of a Medical Laboratory
Medical laboratories have a variety of functions that make them a useful tool in fighting various types of diseases and medical problems. One of their most important functions is to test blood, urine, and other bodily fluids to help diagnose a health concern. In fact, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a person’s health is based on what is found in a laboratory test.
Why would a medical laboratory in California have that kind of power? They can test your bodily fluids in many different accurate ways. For example, they use microscopic and bacteriological tests to gauge whether viruses or bacterial infections are present. They are skilled at identifying different strains and finding ways to isolate and treat them. This information helps doctors to recommend accurate treatment programs or prescriptions, and it all begins with the rapid information provided by the laboratory.
In many respects, a medical laboratory is the first-line of defense against serious illnesses and diseases. They can quickly identify a health concern in a way that other medical professionals cannot. While they do take the guidance and suggestions of doctors when performing tests, they are often relying on their own experience when trying to pinpoint the cause of varying diseases.
The Five Operating Characteristics
In a medical laboratory, there are five operating characteristics: reliability, accuracy, sensitivity, precision, and predictive value. Each of these plays an important role in guiding our medical laboratory in California, as they provide a rich source of information on test accuracy.
Reliability is the measure of how well a test gets the same results. This measurement guides how well that a test can be reproduced and whether or not it is affected by outside influences. A reliable test is one that gets the same results, in spite of mistakes.
Test accuracy and sensitivity can sometimes be confused. However, accuracy measures how well that an analysis finds the real value of the item being tested. For example, an accurate test will be capable of pinpointing a particular disease with more precision than those that struggle to maintain consistent accuracy.
Sensitivity indicates how many people given the test will get a positive result. For example, a test of low sensitivity may give false negatives to individuals who are suffering from a disease. Medical laboratories are always searching for tests that are more sensitive and provide more accurate results while not giving false positives.
Specificity is the measurement of people who don’t have a disease who also receive a negative test result. In essence, it is a measure of the possibility of false negatives. It is important to increase specificity as much as possible, as tests with low levels of this trait are more likely to give a false negative and cause a person to avoid getting proper treatment.
Last, but certainly not least, is predictive value. This value helps gauge whether or not a test can accurately predict whether or not a person has a disease. To some, this probably sounds like accuracy. However, the predictive value is a measurement of how well a test can predict a correct positive or negative. For example, some tests will create a positive for someone who either doesn’t have a disease or who is simply a carrier.
As you can see, a medical laboratory in California is a necessary part of many treatment procedures. That’s why it is so important to understand these laboratories and how they operate. They are an integral part of the health care system and work closely with medical professionals in every field and specialty.
Without them, treating diseases and diagnosing health concerns is much more challenging. To learn more about the services provided by our medical laboratory, contact us today. We are happy to talk with you about the ways that we can help provide specialized and fast test results for you or for your patients.