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Lab tubes
By Tannim101 [CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons]

Laboratory Diagnostics
for the Correctional Nurse

Correctional nurses must obtain labs and conduct patient education regarding lab tests on a daily basis. Thus, it is very important that the nurse understands why the test is being ordered for their patient, any special preparation needed, and what the results indicate.  This month’s class is a discussion of common lab tests that may be ordered.  It includes a guide from Garcia Labs that delineates the parameters used for tests specific to the Michigan Department of Corrections.  Lab tests may be ordered to monitor a patient’s known condition, to diagnose a new condition, to develop an appropriate treatment plan, and to evaluate a patient’s response to a change in care.  Many factors impact upon the results of the lab test, including gender, age, race, medical history, general health, concurrent medications taken, certain foods, ability of the healthcare staff obtaining the test, and the testing procedures at the laboratory.  The results of lab tests are interpreted by the provider by comparing them against the “normal” value set by the laboratory, and the patient’s treatment plan may be updated depending upon the results.