D-H Celebrates National Medical Laboratory Week April 22-28
April 24, 2012
National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is April 22-28, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock again celebrates the dedicated professionals who are often the behind-the-scenes members of a laboratory team with one goal in mind: improved patient care and outcomes.
Today, more than 70 percent of all decisions about diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission and discharge, rest on work done in the medical laboratory. The theme of the week, "Doing Our Best with Every Test," recognizes the proactive, collaborative role professional laboratory teams play to advance patient care as core members of the patient care team.
"I am very proud of our lab staff and faculty, medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in every aspect of health care," said Chair of Pathology Wendy A. Wells MD. "Since lab professionals often work behind the scenes, few people know that the critical testing they perform every day saves lives, reduces morbidity, and helps control the cost of care."
At Dartmouth-Hitchcock, more than 300 staff - pathologists, medical laboratory scientists, lab assistants, phlebotomists, and support staff - run a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week operation that that performs almost 3 million billable lab procedures each year and serves a key collaborative and consultative role within the health care team, resulting in improved patient outcomes, wellness, and advances in personalized medicine.
"Using state-of-the-art technology and instrumentation, laboratory professionals perform and supervise tests that not only search for potential health problems in the hope of identifying the disease early when it is most treatable," adds Dr. Wells, "but also guide and assess the ongoing care of patients."
Laboratories also play a critical, frontline role in the detection of infectious agents and in the transfusion of life-saving blood products.
In the past year, Pathology has embarked in several key projects aimed at providing better and more efficient care, including the January move of the blood bank from Borwell to the main hospital building directly below the operating room suites, and an efficiency pilot project, utilizing the LEAN principles of process improvement that, among other things, helped reduce the time it takes phlebotomists to draw and process patient blood samples.
"I'm also proud of the continuous focus on quality and process improvement work our department has been doing over the past few years," says Pathology Laboratory Director Michael T. Harhen. "Our LEAN project impacts most of the analytical portions of our laboratory in Lebanon - change that is very hard but necessary to make us more efficient and to continue to improve the delivery of our services in years to come."
The Department of Pathology plans a variety of daily activities in celebration of National Medical Laboratories Week, including a barbeque for staff, Hawaiian Shirt Beach Day, Bad Hair/Hat Day, and Sports Team Shirt Day. All during the week they are also accepting donations for Hannah House, Tropical Storm Irene flood victims through Granite United Way, and the Upper Valley Humane Society.
"Today, with advances in analytical science and automation - and as cost pressures reduce patient stays in the hospital - our work in the laboratory is more important than ever," says Harhen "This work is not just done in Lebanon but is done throughout the state. We have pathologists in the North Country and have labs and staff in the Southern region as well. Lab Week is a time to honor our entire lab staff across the Dartmouth-Hitchcock system and the more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals around the country who perform and interpret more than 10 billion laboratory tests in the United States every year."
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a national leader in evidence-based and patient-centered health care. The system includes hundreds of physicians, specialists, and other providers who work together at different locations to meet the health care needs of patients in northern New England. In addition to primary care services at local community practices, Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients have access to specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and centers of excellence including The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice (TDI).
For more information contact Rick Adams at (603) 653-1913.