Happy Medical Laboratory Professionals Week!

March 25, 2024

This year, Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is celebrated April 14–20. This week highlights the vital role played by laboratory professionals and pathologists in diagnostic medicine. Lab Week is now in its 49th year, and MLO would like to extend its appreciation for everything you do each day for the care and treatment of millions of patients.

To coincide with this celebration, MLO publishes its annual Lab of the Year award. This is my second year with MLO, and I am again extremely impressed by all the laboratory nominations I read. It is one of my favorite features in the magazine. Thank you so much to all the labs that submitted thoughtful nominations, and thank you to the judges for your time reviewing and scoring the labs in the five categories: customer service, education and training, productivity, teamwork, and strategic outlook.

This year’s Lab of the Year award goes to Salem Health Laboratories at Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics in Salem, Oregon.  The two runners-up are Southwest Transplant Alliance Laboratory Services in Dallas, Texas and Wisconsin Diagnostics Laboratories in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We feature all three labs in this issue beginning on page 14. Something you may find noteworthy about each winner include the following:

·        At Salem Health Laboratories, Lean management is used to support the overall laboratory quality management program, and all 226 employees lead and complete a process improvement project during the year. One laboratory project utilizing Lean tools improved on-time collections for inpatient morning rounds from 66% of the time to 98% of the time. On-time collections ensure that results are available to physicians first thing in the morning so that they can make treatment and discharge decisions. The laboratory’s work developing a tool to plan the next day’s morning rounds contributed to an overall reduction of 4.8% in average length of stay across the hospital over 12 months. 

·        Innovations at Southwest Transplant Alliance Laboratory Services reduced organ donor infectious disease serology testing from an average of 7.67 hours to an average of 37 minutes. Previously, hands-on testing with a lot of manual pipetting was performed by staff, which is a high-pressure, time-consuming job. The biggest impact was the purchase of the Diasorin Liaison XL, an automated infectious disease analyzer. The ability to expedite a donor case and provide a recipient with a much-needed organ can make the difference between life and death, which this lab has done.

·        Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories (WDL) bolsters educational opportunities for its current employees, but it also does quite a bit of outreach to the community on laboratory professions. WDL visits local high schools to help teach students about the laboratory profession, and it partners with one high school to provide internship opportunities — these students got to work in specimen processing.WDL is also a sponsor of HOSA and provides a scholarship to an aspiring clinical laboratory student. WDL also supports students looking for clinical site opportunities to complete their MLS/MLT degrees, providing clinical spots to three area colleges/universities.

Thank you to all the laboratories that applied this year, and happy Medical Laboratory Professionals Week to all our readers.

I welcome your comments and questions — please send them to me at [email protected].