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Laboratory Medicine

At Laboratory Medicine, we study the molecular and cellular components of blood and other body fluids. This work is crucial to diagnosing and managing illness and understanding the mechanisms and origins of disease.Our physicians, known as clinical pathologists, provide consultations to other doctors regarding optimal laboratory diagnostic approaches and the interpretation of complex laboratory tests. Our team includes pathologists, scientists, phlebotomists, medical technicians, technologists, and others who perform important support functions for our state-of-the-art laboratory. We are available every day, 24 hours a day, for physicians.

Our Approach

We perform approximately 10 million tests each year, and also provide specialized high-tech testing to other hospitals in the Yale New Haven Health System and institutions throughout New England, and as far away as Puerto Rico. We also operate multiple satellite facilities and patient service centers located throughout the state. We ensure that every test we offer—at every location—is accurate and reliable.

When physicians request to have patients’ blood drawn, here is what happens:

Collection: A doctor, nurse, technician, or phlebotomist will draw the patient’s blood. Several tubes may be needed for different types of tests.

Depending on what illness the patient might have, his or her doctor may want to obtain a urine sample, throat swab, or other sample.

After the sample is collected, the container is labeled with the patient’s name and other information.

The sample is received and processed by the Laboratory, and testing begins:

Chemistry Testing

Blood and other bodily fluids are tested for chemicals, drugs, and substances that indicate disease. We check cholesterol and other tests for risk of heart disease, glucose to monitor diabetes, or thyroxin to monitor the thyroid gland.

Hematology Testing

We analyze the amount and function of blood cells and plasma. Examples include the Complete Blood Count (CBC) that tells the doctor how many cells of each type are in the patient’s blood, and the prothrombin time (PT) to measure the time it takes for the blood to clot.

Microbiology Testing

We test a variety of specimen samples for infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites. We often do urine cultures for urinary tract infections.

Virology Testing

We test for viral infections. This includes rapid tests for respiratory viruses such as influenza, molecular tests for noroviruses, and antibody tests for HIV.

Immunology/Molecular Diagnostics

Some tests are used to determine whether the immune system is functioning properly. State-of-the-art analysis of DNA and RNA is used to test for a variety of diseases and for the risk of developing certain diseases. Other specialized tests include the ANA, used to screen for autoimmune disease, and Factor V Leiden genotyping for patients with blood clots.

Tumor Profiling Laboratory

This lab analyzes tumor DNA to predict the sensitivity or resistance of tumors to a variety of tailored drugs

VA Connecticut Healthcare Systems Clinical Laboratories

This provides accurate, timely, and efficient testing, pathologic diagnoses, and transfusion services for veterans

Blood Bank (Transfusion Services)

This laboratory tests patients' blood types and also provides blood products to patients.

Reporting: The length of time between the drawing of the blood and when the provider receives the results varies, from a few minutes to several weeks. Most laboratory testing is done here, but some specialized testing is sent to other labs.

Using the results: Results may help to rule out or diagnose disease, or help doctors manage a known disease. Providers will explain lab results to each patient, so they can participate in maintaining their health.

Transfusion Medicine and Cell Therapy Program

Blood bank:This provides around-the-clock routine and specialized testing and blood components to support the transfusion needs of patients, including those undergoing surgery and organ transplantation, those patients who have suffered a trauma, those with various blood and cancer disorders, and those cared for in Yale Medicine’s prenatal and newborn special care services.

Advanced cell therapy laboratories:This provides services for immunotherapy and stem cell transplant patients. Cells from a patient or donor are removed from the blood, modified to individually target the patient's tumor, and then re-infused into the patient. We use similar approaches to target nonmalignant diseases.

Apheresis:Apheresis is used for collecting platelets or plasma, and for the treatment of certain conditions. In this procedure, whole blood is removed and separated so that disease-provoking components can be removed and replaced with healthy components, with the remaining components re-introduced into the bloodstream.