‘A’ result or the ‘correct’ result

My career before retirement included 30 years as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS). I have listened to all the news about the lack of “testing”. Here is some background in testing.

First you have to identify that an unknown or novel organism is causing a disease.

Then you need to positively isolate the unknown organism.

Next you have to identify where to find the organism. (i.e. blood, lungs, feces, urine)

What method to use to collect the specimen. (i.e. throat swabs, nasopharyngeal swab, sputum, urine or fecal specimens)

How do you properly collect, transport, and store the specimen until testing can be done?

Finally develop a testing method that will give you the correct result not just “a” result. The best test is specific and sensitive.

When medical technologists perform a test run the following is required. All reagent and test kit lot numbers are recorded. The outdates of all reagents, kits and controls are checked and recorded. A positive and negative control or set of controls is performed as per the manufacturer’s directions. Controls are specimens with a known result. Both internal and external controls may be required.

Proper storage of kits, controls, reagents and specimens is critical. Storage temperatures are recorded when refrigeration is required. Room temperatures are recorded daily.

Maintenance on instruments used to run the tests is performed on a prescribed basis. This could be daily, monthly, when reagents are changed or when “controls” are out of range.

Kits are tested when they are received before using the shipment to make sure all storage and shipping requirements were met while the kits were in transit from the manufacturer.

The laboratorian performing the test is required to be trained on how to do the test and demonstrate correct results from samples and unknowns. They are also trained to recognize when a test result may not be valid.

Maybe this will help explain why “testing” is taking so long. Please check out the link www.ascp.org/content/get-involved/institute-of-science-technology-policy/coronavirus-2019-(covid-19)-resources/battling-covid-19. That will give you some information too. — Rae Lynn Hicks BS, MLS (ASCP)CM, SLS(ASCP)CM, CHSP, Swartz Creek