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The Laboratory at Sturdy Memorial Hospital is accredited by the College of American Pathologists and the American Association of Blood Banks. These two organizations visit the department every two years to conduct surveys of the procedures and operations in the lab. They offer critiques and advice and publish a final report with the federal government addressing the quality of services provided to patients.

The Laboratory performs a wide range of testing in the areas of blood chemistry, toxicology, urinalysis, hematology, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, transfusion medicine, cytology and anatomic pathology. The Laboratory also forges alliances with nationally known reference laboratories to provide the widest range of disease testing available.

All testing is performed by properly credentialed technical staff and laboratory physicians, employing the latest technology and equipment and adhering to national standards of quality control and quality improvement. A state-of-the-art information system allows the ordering of tests and timely reporting of results to ensure patient safety.

A board certified pathologist is available at all times to consult on proper test ordering and interpretation.

Customer Service and Phlebotomy

Customer Service staff receive all specimens coming into the department, confirm patient identification, billing information, and test requests and forward them to the appropriate sections for testing. They interact with physicians and their office staff to assure that patients are properly prepared for testing and that the correct tests are performed. They also instruct patients on proper collections of timed and 24 hour collections.

Our phlebotomy staff are highly skilled in making the experience of blood drawing or "phlebotomy" as comfortable as possible. They specialize in babies, young children and "difficult draws". They staff our in-house and satellite stations and attend to the patients in the Emergency Department, Oncology, and inpatients.

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Blood Chemistry, Toxicology, and Urinalysis

This section of the lab tests blood and urine specimens for levels of substances such as electrolytes, enzymes, metabolites, proteins, and hormones that normally circulate in the bloodstream. Detection of imbalances in the concentration of such substances alerts the physician to the presence of disease, and the response to therapy. Such studies include lipid testing for heart disease risk, cardiac markers of acute myocardial infarction, tumor markers, infertility and pregnancy hormone testing, and blood gases, and diabetic monitoring. The section also screens for drugs of abuse and monitors therapeutic drug levels of certain medications.

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Cytology or cytopathology is the microscopic study of cell shapes and sizes to identify cancers or precancers. The laboratory utilizes the latest technology including liquid-based filter cytology and computer-driven image analysis to screen for precancer cells on Pap smear. The laboratory also performs diagnostic testing on body fluids and fine needle aspirations of breast, thyroid, lung, and other body sites. The laboratory is under the direction of a board certified cytopathologist who participated in the development of the computer-assisted system.

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This section performs the CBC or complete blood count to identify anemia, and changes in white blood cells and platelets which can signify disease. With these data, physicians can prescribe transfusions and monitor their efficacy, identify the presence of infection and response to antibiotics, diagnose leukemia, and monitor patients undergoing chemotherapy. The section also performs coagulation testing for patients receiving blood thinners such as coumadin or heparin. This section interacts closely with Hematologists and Oncologists.

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This section processes cultures of blood, tissues and body fluids to identify bacterial pathogens and determine their sensitivity to appropriate antibiotics. The laboratory also performs testing to detect tuberculosis and various viral diseases including influenza, rotavirus, and Epstein Barr virus and bacterial toxins such as Clostridium difficile. This includes DNA detection of HPV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea. The lab partners with the Massachusetts State Laboratory, State Health Department, and Local Health Agent to monitor contagious diseases. This section interacts closely with Infectious Disease Specialists.

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Pathology is the microscopic study of tissues, organs, and biopsies to detect disease, determine its extent and provide guidance on prognosis and therapy. To do this, tissue biopsies need to be processed and sliced to a thickness of 4/1000 of a millimeter, mounted on a glass slide, stained for examination under the microscope. This is the job of the technicians of the Histology Lab, a highly skilled and well equipped state-of-the-art facility. A specialist physician, called a pathologist, performs the microscopic examination and considers the patient's history and other data in arriving at a diagnosis. Pathologists examine specimens from literally any part of the body and any kind of disease. The pathologists at Sturdy Memorial Hospital have board certification and additional subspecialty training in the areas of cytopathology, dermatopathology, forensic pathology, and breast disease.

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