Medical Laboratory Technologist Job Description
A Law that Was Impacted by This Profession
One of the contributions that medical laboratory scientists made was the impact of the anti-drug legislation that was passed through the conduct of a line of research. The process was international, as it was started in Germany in 1806, but the law that was affected by this profession was passed in the United States in 1914 (Institute of Medicine, 1996). Specifically, the findings made in the German clinical laboratory setting first discovered the supposedly beneficial outcomes of consuming morphine, but the American medical laboratory scientists elaborated previous studies on addiction and contributed to the passing of the Harrison Anti-Narcotics Act of 1914 (Institute of Medicine, 1996).
The beginning of the line of research is linked to Germany. In 1806, a pharmacist, F.W.A. Serturner, was working with crude opium and managed to extract a new distilled product – morphine (Institute of Medicine, 1996). Over the next seven decades, the new product was spreading intensively, and regular users and specialists in the field of medicine were confident in its beneficial effects on those taking it since it was thought to be a pain reliever and a panacea to many conditions. Thus, as the substance was spreading, it was delivered to the U.S., where it was also broadly used, and nobody associated it with any harm. However, in 1875, the American medical laboratory scientist Levinstein was the first person who make a public claim that morphine had an adverse impact on human health, as the need for its intake was the top priority even when a person’s condition was deteriorating (Institute of Medicine, 1996). Moreover, he found that the conditions of an individual could be improved in the case of consuming more opium. Therefore, the clinical laboratory finding of Levinstein represents a substantial milestone in the line of research, which altered the perception of morphine and set the direction toward the passing of the law.
The end of the 19th century was characterized by the focus of American medical laboratory research on searching for ways to address the newly identified addiction to the intake of morphine. Multiple findings were made to address the problem. Specifically, clinical laboratory scientists studied endocrine and antibody systems, brain, and cell protoplasm as subjects that could potentially be used to cure addiction (Institute of Medicine, 1996). At that time, the expected chances for successful curing were thought to be from 75 to 99% (Institute of Medicine, 1996). Nevertheless, the situation did not improve until the second decade of the 20th century.
The intensification of the military situation in the world affected the U.S., as the country experienced widespread drug abuse and addiction. The previous medical laboratory accomplishments made in this domain turned out to be ineffective in addressing the issue of drug abuse. Moreover, the large flow of immigrants increased access to drugs and, consequently, the rate of abuse (Institute of Medicine, 1996). As a result, the response to the problem was made by the American legislative bodies. In 1914, the American government passed the Harrison Anti-Narcotics Act that installed strict control over drugs, including morphine, and prohibited the prescription of drugs to cure addiction, as it was considered a non-medical practice at that time (Institute of Medicine, 1996). The approval of the Act was the culmination of the line of research since the previous findings of medical laboratory scientists proved the harm of taking morphine, and the results of their studies were used as the basis for the legislation.
A Treatment Involved With this Profession
The specific element of the medical laboratory scientist’s practice is focused on the use of laboratory tests to produce results that can then be applied in a variety of medical practices. However, usually, such specialists do their work to provide medical institution personnel with information on a patient’s condition that cannot be obtained through regular examination. Therefore, the treatment involved is the clinical laboratory tests that are conducted according to specific regulatory rules and with the goal of improving medical outcomes.
Historically, the organization of medical laboratory testing has not changed, and it follows a specific sequence of steps. According to Wians (2009), the type of treatment involved in this profession consists of pre-analytic, analytic, and post-analytic stages. The pre-analytic step includes the decision-making conducted by the medical personnel outside the medical facility and is aimed at determining whether the testing needs to be undertaken. The analytic part involves laboratory testing, while the post-analytic step consists of the processes aimed at the analysis of testing findings and their delivery to the medical personnel (Wians, 2009). Therefore, although the specific details, such as the medical condition or specimen required for testing, might vary for every testing order, the general logical structure remains the same in every case.
Such type of treatment is conducted in large quantities, but it is also subject to different types of errors that may deteriorate the outcomes of every stage. According to Wians (2009), the mistakes that medical laboratory scientists make can be systematic and random, and their cumulative effect can change the precision and accuracy of results. Since the purpose of conducting a medical laboratory testing treatment is to provide medical personnel with additional information for better patient outcomes, the impact of errors could be devastating. Therefore, this fact demonstrates the importance of attention to detail for this profession.
The reviewed type of treatment involved in the medical laboratory profession is also subject to a historical growth in the number of ordered tests due to the reliance on technologies. The results obtained through this process represent a supplement to the information a physician can obtain through the regular examination. Thus, the laboratory testing findings become more accurate in the case the developed technologies are used, and the intensification of the technological progress has resulted in a greater number of orders for the treatment than it was in the past. Wians (2009) indicates that there has already emerged the problem when physicians order such medical laboratory testing very often, but many of such orders are “unnecessary.” At the modern stage of development of this profession, the regulatory authorities are seeking ways to reduce the number of such orders to improve the allocation of resources in the medical industry. According to Wians (2009), the rules that justify the ordering of the treatment include the pursuit of such goals as diagnosis, monitoring, screening, and research. Therefore, these facts demonstrate that the medical laboratory technologist profession has become in high demand nowadays due to historical technological progress, and efforts are being taken to control such demand.
The treatment involved in the medical laboratory scientist profession has been developing historically, but it is particularly vital nowadays, as it can provide findings that can improve the quality of disease management. Besides, despite the benefits of the treatment, it is becoming overexploited as the resources are being allocated ineffectively due to the excessive ordering of testing. Overall, medical laboratory testing is a valuable supplement to regular practices conducted by physicians and one that improves the quality of disease management.
Famous Inventor that Affected this Profession
The medical laboratory technologist profession is not only associated with the use of sophisticated electronic equipment. To a great extent, the professionals in this industry rely on simple yet effective items. One of the inventions used broadly in this profession is the Petri dish, which is particularly widespread in the laboratory setting associated with microbiology and molecular biology. The extensive modern use and application of the Petri dish could not become a reality without the work done by the German scientist Julius Petri who developed the equipment in the 19th century.
The Petri dish is the equipment that is usually associated with the medical laboratory technologist profession, as its simple design and high effectiveness drove its integration into the industry’s practices. It is a glass or plastic dish that has perpendicular sides and a lid that allows the storage of bacteria with the inflow of air but without their contamination (“Google Celebrates…”, 2013). The equipment is used to grow bacterial colonies in a laboratory setting for observation, medicine testing, and development of new drug types. Therefore, the simplicity of the Petri dish drove the elaboration of many of the medical laboratory accomplishments.
The equipment was developed by the German bacteriologist Julius Petri over sixteen decades ago, but it did not occur accidentally. His life story is simple, but it does not minimize the effects he has had on the medicine. Petri was born in 1852, and after he obtained a degree in medicine in Berlin in 1876, he began to work for Robert Koch, who is associated with the earliest stages of bacteriology development (“Google Celebrates…”, 2013). While working in the laboratory, Petri observed that Koch placed bacteria either on agar or gelatin for growing. While such an approach allowed observing the growth, the outcomes often deteriorated, as the bacteria were entirely exposed to air and contaminated. As a result, medical laboratory technologists of the 19th century were limited in the effectiveness of their work. Petri’s solution to the problem was the invention of what is now known as the Petri dish. After the innovation he made in the 1870s-1880s, there were no outstanding achievements that Julius made in his life, but the invention of the Petri dish remains an undoubtedly significant breakthrough in his life and medical laboratory scientist profession (“Google Celebrates…”, 2013).
Julius Petri’s innovation was based on the intention to prevent the contamination of bacterial colonies while allowing the growth of bacteria. His suggestion to use a glass with a lid turned out to be effective, as while the air could get inside the glass, the contamination of the colonies inside did not occur (“Google Celebrates…”, 2013). Thus, Petri managed to reduce the rate of ineffective laboratory tests with bacteria. Later, it became evident that Julius Petri affected the entire medical laboratory profession since his invention reduced the chances of tested bacterial colonies getting contaminated and deteriorating.
Nowadays, the Petri dish is broadly used in medical, biotechnological, and microbiological laboratories along with sophisticated and technology-heavy equipment. Over more than sixteen decades, the practicability of the invention has not reduced, the medical laboratory scientists continue to grow bacteria for medical purposes in them. Julius Petri improved the approach that Koch was already using in bacteriology, as the equipment for growing bacteria was already designed. However, his suggestion was entirely new since it involved the use of different materials and eliminated the major flaws associated with agar and gelatin plates. Thus, Petri’s invention had a substantial effect on the medical laboratory technologist profession in general as the Petri dish stimulated its effectiveness and further development.
Surgical Procedure that Was Able to Be Accomplished by this Profession
The continuous development of the medical laboratory scientist profession contributed to the improvement of surgical medical practices. The technological and theoretical accomplishments attained in the 1960s affected modern surgical processes by introducing an approach that previously could not be implemented due to high costs. The elaboration and introduction of new technologies into the profession expanded the possibilities of medical laboratory technologists and allowed surgery personnel to conduct routine preoperative screening to identify anesthesia tolerance and potential post-surgery risks.
Modern surgical practices commonly involve the conduct of various laboratory tests before the surgery is performed. However, until the late 1960s, such procedures were entirely different, as the preoperative assessment involved primarily regular physical examination and a selective ordering of individual tests to check assumptions regarding the patient’s condition (Srivastava & Kumar, 2011). The surgeons and physicians were limited in their possibilities of relying on the work of medical laboratory scientists, as the costs of each test were high, and it was needed to selectively choose the most critically required procedures. The late 1960s was the period when a technological breakthrough in the medical field was made, and the biochemical autoanalyzer was developed and introduced in the laboratory setting (Srivastava & Kumar, 2011). The new equipment allowed medical laboratory scientists to perform numerous clinical tests within a shorter time and at lower costs. Moreover, the new possibilities changed the attitude of surgeons and physicians, as they altered their approach to testing and preoperative treatment. According to Srivastava and Kumar (2011), the introduction of the biochemical autoanalyzer contributed to a new type of medical thinking that was based on the assumption that surgical practices could be made less risky and more cost-effective if laboratory testing was conducted at early stages and more frequently. Therefore, the technological innovation in the medical laboratory technologist profession created an entirely new dogma for the entire healthcare system.
The routine preoperative patient screening through the use of medical laboratory testing increased the rate of detecting abnormalities, which resulted in a change in every patient’s surgical and postoperative practices. Srivastava and Kumar (2011) have found that in a study with a limited sample, routine screening accounted for a 22% rate of identifying important abnormalities that can affect future surgical practices. Apart from that, the routine pre-surgical chest X-ray has been found to have a 10 to 50% chance of identifying abnormal findings among patients who were not diagnosed with such signs during the regular physician examination (Srivastava & Kumar, 2011). However, there is also evidence that the postoperative outcomes were the same for the patients who were subjects for routine screening and those who were not (Srivastava & Kumar, 2011). Therefore, while this surgical practice is beneficial in some cases, there are also some facts demonstrating the lack of usefulness in post-surgical outcomes.
The qualitative improvement in the medical laboratory technologist profession allowed the routine laboratory testing screening at the preoperative stage to be accomplished. Such change to the way surgery is performed resulted in the ability to identify abnormal conditions that could not be found through regular physician examination, but the rate of success has been found to be relatively low. Besides, such change to surgical practices has not been confirmed to improve postoperative outcomes for patients. Still, the use of the biochemical autoanalyzer in the medical laboratory technologist profession not only demonstrated that the popular medical dogmas may be changed, but it also allowed to obtain more accurate preoperative patient information. Overall, this profession enabled a more effective surgical practice and patient preparation for surgery to be accomplished, which undoubtedly is a positive implication for the healthcare industry and patients who undergo surgeries.
A Drug or Medication Affected by this Profession
The medical laboratory technologist profession is not only limited to conducting tests for patients to improve disease management outcomes. It also includes the practices aimed at developing and re-assessing medications that are planned to be introduced into the market or are already circulating there. One of the medications that were affected by the medical laboratory technologist profession was Vioxx, an anti-inflammatory drug, which was found to be causing mortality, and the decision was made to withdraw the medication from the United States market.
Vioxx is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine that was initially approved to be sold in the American market, but it was prohibited several years after its introduction. Its launch occurred in 1999, and it was the outcome of preliminary short-term laboratory testing on a small sample group (Hileman, 2005). Vioxx was designed as a painkiller for patients diagnosed with arthritis, and it was also found to be able to protect the stomach lining. Besides, the medicine development was also intended to overcome such disadvantages of the previous non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as the increased mortality caused by gastrointestinal tract bleeding (Hileman, 2005). Altogether, by 1999, the pharmaceutical company producing Vioxx had sufficient evidence that proved the medicine’s safety for patients and effectiveness in arthritis treatment.
However, shortly after the medicine was approved and launched for sale in the American market, information on harm from its intake appeared. Specifically, a broad study, named VIGOR, showed that 56 patients suffered cardiovascular and heart attack risks (Hileman, 2005). Another research that involved statistical and medical laboratory testing found that the daily intake of 25 mg of Vioxx increased the risks of heart problems and cardiac events by 360 and 120% respectively (Hileman, 2005). While such findings are not limited to medical laboratory testing only, such an approach would not be possible since statistical evidence is required. Overall, the information from two studies showed that Vioxx was not as safe for patients as it was initially expected to be.
The VIGOR and another medical laboratory and statistical studies demonstrated that the initial testing of the medicine was not sufficient. Moreover, shortly before its withdrawal from the American market, the British Journal claimed that clinical and laboratory trials conducted by the Vioxx manufacturer were not properly designed and conducted (Hileman, 2005). Finally, after receiving reproaches from multiple sources, the medicine producer made another test, which revealed that the drug increased the chances of patients having heart attacks (Hileman, 2005). Such findings were in line with those received by medical laboratory technologists, who were not affiliated with Vioxx manufacturer, and they proved the incorrectness of the pre-launch expectations. As a result of the large quantity of information, the decision was made to withdraw the medicine from the market in 2001 (Hileman, 2005). Thus, the manufacturer needed two years to identify the threat from its product, but it was generating revenues from its sales over this period.
The situation with the launch and withdrawal of Vioxx demonstrates the importance of medical laboratory testing for medication development and the effects that this profession can have on drugs. The incorrectly designed and conducted clinical laboratory trials showed the short-term benefits of the medicine for patients, but the more detailed and carefully designed testing demonstrated its contribution to cardiac events development. However, for the implications from medical laboratory technologists, the Vioxx manufacturer would not have known of the harm to patients, and the rate of mortality from its intake could have increased. Therefore, the medical laboratory technologist profession can affect medications by contributing to their development, launch, as well as withdrawal from the market.