There are so many people and departments in our facility that play an integral part in the care and healing of our patients. Our WCH Laboratory is one of them. This week marks the start of a Medical Laboratory Professional Week. It’s that time of the year where we like to recognize and acknowledge the incredible job that the people in our lab do.
For most of us we rarely see the folks in the lab. If you should be looking for them you’ll more than likely find them working at their benches doing chemistry, blood banking, microbiology, hematology, urinalysis or on acute care or the ER doing phlebotomy. Unless you’re in the field it’s difficult to imagine exactly what they do. For you and me our exposure to the lab is having blood drawn (or collecting other things) and then your provider going over the results with you. However, there is so much more to it. The complexity and detail of their profession is amazing. I’ve stood in front of their equipment and can’t help to think that it takes a very knowledgeable and gifted person to do what they do. The governance and quality assurance of the equipment and tests is heavily monitored for accuracy and precision. It’s a very detailed profession with little room for error. We are fortunate to have such an awesome team of lab professionals working at WCH.
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I did a little digging on the history of medical diagnosis and found some interesting items as it pertains to lab testing:
- The oldest known test on body fluids was done before 400 BC. Urine was poured on the ground and observed to see whether it attracted insects. If it did, patients were diagnosed with boils.
- Hippocrates advocated a diagnostic protocol that included tasting the patient’s urine.
- Hippocrates and the ancient Greeks also believed in the “Four Humors”. The Four Humors are the metabolic agents of the Four Elements in the human body. The right balance and purity of them is essential to maintaining health. The Four Humors and the elements they serve are as follows:
- Blood – Air
- Phlegm – Water
- Yellow Bile – Fire
- Black Bile – Earth
- According to the Greeks, all four of these humors, or vital fluids, are present in the bloodstream in varying quantities:
- Blood or the Sanguine humor, is the red, hemoglobin-rich portion
- Phlegm or Phlegmatic humor, is present as the clear plasma portion
- Yellow Bile or the Choleric humor, is present as a slight residue or bilirubin, imparting a slight yellowish tint
- Black Bile or the Melancholic humor, is present as a brownish grey sediment with platelets and clotting factors
Written by Peter Stachowicz, Director of Ambulatory Services and Medical Imaging Manager