A Heritage of Loving Service: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Tucson
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Heritage: The Story of St. Mary's Hospital, 1880-1980
By Leo G. Bryne and Sister Alberta Cammack, C.S.J

Chapter III Contemporary St. Mary's
Clinical Laboratory

In the Clinical Laboratory, a multitude of different automated devices have joined the test tube and the centrifuge as laboratory tools, measuring the many different components of the blood and body fluids.

Reaching out to all parts of the hospital, the Clinical Laboratory is responsible for many sophisticated, as well as simple tests and determinations. It furnishes the physician with the accurate results needed to diagnose and treat the patients. There are studies involved with heart and kidney functions, with enzyme and tissue studies; determinations of coagulation and toxic substances; and with the analysis of electrolytes and blood gases. Diagnostic tests reveal a multitude of problems: bleeding, chemical and glandular imbalance, and abnormalities in blood and body cells.

Cultures are prepared in bacteriological studies to identify pathogenic and disease-producing organisms. Various procedures help to determine which antibiotic will be most effective.

At present, a unit of blood is tested by a nuclear machine technique to prevent the danger of serum hepatitis. It must undergo an elaborate cross-matching procedure which helps to determine if there will be any patient reaction to the blood. Not until the blood is checked against the patient's and the donor's blood cells and serum for possible antigen and antibody reactions can the blood be considered "compatible" and safe to be received by the patient. Once the compatible blood is set up for the specific recipient, the nursing unit is notified and under the watchful care of the nurse or physician the unit of blood is administered to the patient.

Medical Technologists at St. Mary's are indispensable members of the health team, involved in medical diagnosis, management, surveillance and research. They must master the use and maintenance of complex new instrumentation, and they must continually check on the quality of their performance to provide the best possible patient care.

Continue with Chapter III: Contemporary St. Mary's Cardiovascular Laboratory

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