What Does A Medical Laboratory Technician Do?

Medical laboratory technicians play an integral role in the healthcare setting because they perform tests that help in the diagnoses and treatment of different kinds of diseases. Employed in hospitals or physicians’ offices, medical laboratory technicians gather samples of tissues and fluids of the human body and run tests on them.

Working under the supervision of doctors, medical technologists or laboratory managers, medical laboratory technicians look at samples of blood, urine and tissues to determine if there are abnormalities. They use microscopes, cell counters and other kinds of laboratory equipment and instruments to conduct their tests. Before blood is transfused, they first look at the sample to look for such details as the cell number, blood group and blood type and determine if it is compatible with the blood of the recipient.

Medical laboratory technicians typically perform routine tests compared to the more complex tests and procedures that medical laboratory technologists do. They usually conduct hematology, immunology, clinical chemistry, blood bank, microbiology and molecular tests. They may also be asked to do emerging diagnostic tests.

In a typical workday, medical laboratory technicians will see to it that the laboratory is clean and sanitized. They also ensure that the lights are turned on and working since this is necessary in successfully carrying out laboratory tests. Before performing the tests, they see to it that they have their laboratory coats, gloves, goggles and masks on so that they are protected from spills and accidents that could happen in the laboratory that could contaminate them and make them sick.

It is also their responsibility to gather and prepare specimens and blood samples. They are expected to assist patients as necessary when collecting these samples. For example, they explain how the procedure is going to be carried out and answer questions they may have. If the patient needs to stand or sit while carrying out the procedure, medical laboratory technicians may need to assist and lift the patients. They should also see to it that the specimens are accurately labeled so that the laboratory results won’t get mixed up.

When examining the specimens, they perform the procedures required by the requesting physician. They may do a complete blood count, urinalysis or fecalysis. They may also look for the presence of bacteria, parasites and other organisms that could be the causative agents of disease or perform more advanced laboratory procedures depending on the test requested by the doctor.

After ascertaining the results, they record the data and test results into the medical records of the patients involved. They also confer with the medical laboratory technologists and sometimes, with doctors who ordered the test about the findings of the laboratory tests.

Medical technicians may also specialize in various areas of the laboratory testing. For instance, they may work as histotechnicians whose main task is to cut and stain tissue specimens so these are ready for microscopic testing by pathologists. Specialization is possible after laboratory technicians have gained sufficient experience or gotten more education in a specific area, such as in immunology or histotechnology.

Career Spotlight: Medical Laboratory Technician

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