Readers Respond

July 1, 2011

mL or uL?

In “Answering your questions” (Tips, November 2010, page 32) regarding G6PD testing, Dr. Lo gave sample volumes of 50 mL and 10 mL being required for testing. With a blood volume of about 120 mL, these may be a little draining on a neonate. I think that he may have meant uL instead.

— Patrick Mowers, MT(ASCP)SC, MS Managed Care Statistician Community Care Network Henderson, KY

Editor's note: 
Thanks to Mr. Mowers for taking the time to point this out. We consulted with the two makers of the G6PD screening kit Dr. Lo mentioned. John Phelan, a technical support specialist at Trinity Biotech, says the manual procedure given in the package insert of the Trinity Biotech G6PD screening kit indicates that 0.01 mL of whole blood be used as the sample volume ( Pointe Scientific no longer offers the G6PD screening kit.

“Peg” as the lab's “Everywoman”

Your profile of “A lab tech” in the “Mentoring Minute” section of the June 2010 issue (page 30) left me singularly cold. Especially troubling was the last sentence: “When Peg leaves for the last time, there will be no big fanfare, nor would she expect there to be, because she was a lab tech.” Why would you publish something so demoralizing? Are you that out of touch with the pervasive dissatisfaction in most labs? (See “Survey Finds 45% of Hospital Employees Discontented, Disengaged,” John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 14, 2010.)

Martyrs disgust me. Peg, and those like her, who mousily worked any time, under any conditions, at any cost to their personal lives and families, and never demanded the recognition and appreciation they were due, are in no small part responsible for the ever-worsening shortage of competent laboratory professionals.

I became a medical technologist the same year the final language of CLIA '88 was published. I will never forget the sense of disbelief and defeat among techs both new and experienced as we all stared at the Congressional Register posted on the lab bulletin board. That was 20 years ago. Our children have seen how we are treated and have said, “Hell, no” to following in our footsteps. Peg may have served well the people who were patients while she worked, but she has done a great disservice to thousands of current and future patients.

The hour is past due when laboratory professionals need to organize and speak up. Even though we are invisible to the patients we serve, we should not be so to physicians, nurses, and, particularly, hospital administrators. We must demand a stop to the erosion of educational and licensing standards. We must demand adequate staffing, humane schedules, and decent pay and benefits. Above all, we must demand (because asking nicely has gotten us nowhere) recognition, respect, and, yes, the occasional fanfare. Unless we do, the patients who come after Peg will have no one to perform their laboratory tests with knowledge and care; they will perhaps have no one to perform them at all.

— Sheilah Dols, BSMT, MT(ASCP) Inova Loudoun Hospital Leesburg, VA

Editor's note: 
It is interesting that MLO received two very different reactions to the tribute paid by her colleague to “Peg.” What is the old adage? Des einen Freud; des andern Leid … one man's joy is another man's sorrow? Read another comment about “Peg” below.

“Peg's” reward

The letter under June 2010 “Mentoring Minute” concerning “Peg” (page 30) struck a chord with me. In fact, it made me cry. Yes, “Peg” and others like her have literally given their lives to the medical profession. I, too, am close to retiring. Like Peg, I have a lot of memories of taking “call,” working long hours, and missing family functions. In all of that, I can only remember one doctor who said thank you after a particularly long, bloody surgery. One cannot work in a clinical lab for the glory, because there is none. Nor is there any gratitude for “being there” and doing a good job.

I am reminded of a story of a missionary and his wife, who came home from afar after devoting their lives to preaching Christ to pagans. As they were about to disembark from the ocean liner at New York, they saw and heard a great crowd and band greeting someone else. The old preacher said something to his wife about there being no one to welcome them. He felt lonely and unappreciated. His wife noticed his frame of mind and was concerned; however, the man went off to pray. When he came back he was in a much better mood, upbeat. His wife, glad to see his attitude had changed, asked him what had happened. He told her that as he was praying and complaining to God about his lack of recognition upon his return home, God reminded him that he wasn't home yet. So, like the old preacher, those of us who want a celebration of our life's work, may have to wait until we get to Heaven.

Ruby Long

New London, MO

MLO welcomes letters to the editor. We ask that you include a phone number for verification. While we prefer to publish the writer's name, we will publish a letter with “name withheld by request,” but our editorial staff must have the writer's name confirmed for our fi les. MLO reserves the right to edit any letter for style and length.