Step-by-Step Guide to Reporting Medical Test Results
Learn the process a medical laboratory technician follows when reporting test results.
Test results from a patient’s specimen (blood, urine, or body fluids) can provide valuable insights when diagnosing illnesses. The physician will order tests, and patients’ samples will be collected and delivered to the laboratory. The medical laboratory technician (MLT) uses various laboratory equipment to examine the sample. Once the medical laboratory technician finishes running the requested tests, the results are recorded in the patient’s electronic file via the Laboratory Information System (LIS). Any critical results will be notified to the provider.
The federal government regulates clinical laboratories in the United States under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), passed by Congress in 1988. Once results are collected, they must conform with HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines. Whenever patient data is stored, HIPAA guidelines apply.
You can learn more information about becoming a medical laboratory technician. Below, we’ll cover how medical laboratory technicians report their test results.
What Is the Role of a Medical Laboratory Technician?
Before we get into testing and results, it’s essential to understand the role of medical laboratory technicians. In many cases, a doctor will use the information from medical tests to help diagnose a patient’s illness or disease. By analyzing a patient’s blood, urine, or body fluid, a doctor can understand the underlying causes of a patient’s issues even when there may not be any outward signs to aid in diagnosis.
(Click here to review our complete list of medical lab tech duties & responsibilities)
The medical laboratory technician (MLT) takes these samples and runs the diagnostic tests ordered by the doctor. It’s up to the medical laboratory technician to ensure the accuracy of the tests, those test results are then interpreted by the doctor.
What Education Is Needed to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician?
To become a medical laboratory technician, you need a high school diploma and an Associate of Applied Science degree. Once you have your degree, you are qualified to become certified by one of two major credentialing organizations, ASCP Board of Certification or American Medical Technologists.
Brookline College offers a medical laboratory technician program that requires just 64 weeks to complete. You can learn more about how to become a medical laboratory technician.
What Equipment Is Used by a Medical Laboratory Technician?
Once a patient’s specimens are delivered to the lab, it’s the job of the medical laboratory technician to test them using a variety of complex chemical, hematological, immunologic, and bacteriological tests. Below is some of the equipment a medical laboratory technician may use when testing samples:
- Hematology analyzers
- Blood gas analyzers
- Chemistry analyzers
- Urinalysis analyzers
- Microplate readers/washers
- Point-of-care analyzers
- Immunoassay analyzers
By becoming familiar with the laboratory, you’re working in and always following proper safety procedures, you can help to prevent or eliminate hazards and ensure accurate testing.
What Makes Up the Day-to-Day Responsibilities of a Medical Laboratory Technician?
The job of medical laboratory technician is on our list of the best entry-level medical jobs in healthcare. The daily tasks involved for medical laboratory technicians can vary depending on the facility. Below are some of the responsibilities of a medical laboratory technician:
- Collecting blood and other body fluid samples from patients more common in rural facilities
- Preparing samples for testing, dilutions if applicable
- Analyzing patient samples, looking for any abnormalities
- Performing testing such as ABO RH, Hematology, Chemistry, Coagulation, Urinalysis, Waived testing
- Ensuring the accuracy of lab orders
- Entering test results in the laboratory information system (LIS)
- Reporting those results to the designated superior
Medical laboratory technicians are also required to clean their work surfaces and maintain laboratory quality standards to help prevent contamination of samples.
Does the Medical Laboratory Technician Deliver These Results to the Doctor?
The medical laboratory technician performs the most routine testing on a patient’s specimen. More complex testing is performed either by a Medical Laboratory Scientist or a Pathologist.
In most cases, the providers are able to get the results from the Laboratory Information System (LIS), therefore, no direct reporting is needed by the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT). However, notification of critical values is given to the provider by the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) and documented in the electronic chart. In small rural facilities and surgical areas, test values may be given to the provider directly by the MLS, but this isn’t the norm only in extenuating circumstances.
How Do Medical Laboratory Technicians Report Their Findings?
Once medical laboratory technicians run the requested tests on patient samples, they will have a set of results for each test. The results are electronically downloaded into the Laboratory Information System (LIS). Upon the MLT reviewing the result in LIS, any abnormal results will flag. The MLT will do more investigation and report any critical results to the provider.
If the electronic system is down, an MLT will document results on paper, review them, provide Doctor with a copy, and keep the original for later to upload into LIS when it is back up and running.
What Is the Definition of a Medical Record?
A patient’s medical record includes all their health data. A medical record encompasses the patient’s history, not just concerning current health problems. Medical records include a patient’s demographics, medical history, notes on the progress of conditions or overall health, diagnoses, medications, and allergies. All health providers use the medical record throughout the diagnostic and treatment process.
Is a Medical Laboratory Technician a Good Entry-Level Medical Job?
A medical laboratory technician can be a fulfilling career if you’re looking to move into healthcare. After attaining an Associate of Applied Science degree, you can be eligible for this position. This can be earned in as little as 64 months. According to Indeed.com, the average national salary for a medical laboratory technician is about $62,000 per year.
You’ll find this career on our list of Best Entry-Level Medical Jobs.
Ready to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician?
As a medical laboratory technician, you play a critical role in healthcare, helping diagnose illness and disease. A medical laboratory technician career is not only interesting and engaging, but you also make a real difference in patient health and successful outcomes.
We offer degrees and diploma programs for various healthcare professions at Brookline College. From nursing to occupational therapy assistant, phlebotomy to medical laboratory technician, Brookline provides the education for students to help pursue a rewarding career. Find all we offer at Brookline College, and get started today on your career in healthcare.