The clinical Chemistry department of any laboratory
incorporates a limitless variety of diagnostic methodologies and variations on
established techniques to perform analytical determinations on patient samples.
Such specimens may present in the form of serum, plasma, whole blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine
and a host of body fluids originating from a number of specific sites.
the role of the Chemistry department to adapt with advances in methodological
sensitivity, specificity and rapidity to provide the physician with the
clinically useful information required to diagnose, differentiate and monitor
the patient’s clinical state. Established methodologies exist for assessment of
cardiac, renal, liver, gastrointestinal and endocrinological function. Analytes
measured vary from ions, enzymes, vitamins and hormones to drugs.
methodology or analytical system utilized by a Laboratory is subject to strict
standardization and ongoing assessment through the use of quality control
sampling and external proficiency testing. Quality Control material is designed
to mimic the patient sample matrix (consistency), is of known relative analyte
concentration and is characteristically run daily at levels reflecting
clinically normal, abnormal low and abnormal high values. This will assess the
performance of an instrument or system on a daily basis over the entire dynamic
range of testing capabilities to ensure it is accurately reporting patient
results. Plotting the values generated for quality control materials allows changes in
performance to be identified and any such discrepancies to be acted upon.
Common tests performed in the Chemistry department range from electrolytes,
cardiac (heart attack) markers, liver function tests, and renal (kidney)
function tests to Drug screening (both prescription and drugs of abuse) among
The continuous advances made in measurement systems, which
originally led to automation of manual techniques, are pushed on a continual
basis to minimize sample volume while optimizing sample
There are continuous checks on the system occurring in the background
that eliminate both time consuming maintenance, troubleshooting and service
procedures of the past to ensure the system is always ready for specimen
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