Exploring the Vital Role of Medical Laboratory Science: What Does a Medical Laboratory Science Do?

Ever wondered what happens to the blood, urine, or other samples you give at the hospital? Who analyzes them and provides the medical teams with the results? It’s the medical laboratory scientists who work diligently in the background to ensure that patient test results are accurate and timely.

Medical laboratory science is a fascinating field that involves analyzing various types of body samples to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses. Medical laboratory scientists use advanced technology and equipment to study the chemical, physical, and microbial properties of the samples they receive. They then interpret the results, generate reports, and communicate them to clinical teams so that appropriate actions can be taken.

Medical laboratory scientists play a crucial role in healthcare, and their work can often be lifesaving. Accuracy and precision are paramount in their profession as misinterpretation of results can lead to incorrect diagnosis and treatment. With advancing technology and new testing procedures being developed every day, medical laboratory scientists need to keep themselves updated with the latest trends and methodologies in their field.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Medical Laboratory Scientist

Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS), also known as Medical Technologists (MT), play a crucial role in the healthcare industry as they conduct various laboratory tests and experiments to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. With a passion for science and technology, along with a strong attention to detail, MLSs deliver reliable and accurate test results in a timely manner to help physicians make informed decisions regarding their patients’ health.

  • Collecting and analyzing specimens – MLSs collect samples of blood, body fluids, and tissue to analyze and identify the presence of bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms that may be causing an infection or illness. They also conduct tests to monitor patient medications and treatment plans.
  • Operational maintenance – MLSs must ensure that laboratory equipment is properly maintained and calibrated. They may also be responsible for ordering laboratory supplies and ensuring that inventory is properly managed.
  • Interpretation and reporting – After conducting laboratory tests and experiments, MLSs analyze the results and interpret them for healthcare professionals. They also generate detailed reports that include their findings, recommendations, and conclusions.

MLSs perform their work in a range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and reference laboratories. They work alongside other healthcare professionals, such as physicians and nurses, to provide top-quality patient care.

Importance of Medical Laboratory Science in Healthcare

Medical laboratory science is a vital component in healthcare systems worldwide. It provides vital information that assists in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. The field encompasses the collection, analysis, and interpretation of patient samples including blood, urine, saliva, and tissues.

  • Accurate Diagnosis: Medical laboratory scientists play a critical role in diagnosing diseases. When a physician suspects a particular illness, the laboratory testing provides relevant information to confirm the diagnosis. Without laboratory testing, healthcare providers would have to rely solely on patient symptoms, which can be misleading and lead to misdiagnosis.
  • Treatment: Medical laboratory science also plays a significant role in the treatment of diseases. Laboratory tests verify treatment plans, and healthcare providers can adjust the course of treatment based on the results of the tests. This ensures that patients receive the correct treatment, which can improve their recovery outcomes.
  • Disease Prevention: A medical laboratory professional can identify if a disease outbreak is occurring and alert the public health authorities to take action. Disease prevention also includes monitoring the safety of donated blood and organ transplants, testing food and water for contaminants, and ensuring that vaccines are effective.

Medical laboratory professionals have a responsibility to deliver accurate and reliable test results that healthcare providers use in making crucial patient care decisions. Inaccurate or unreliable test results can have severe consequences for patients and healthcare providers.

The importance of medical laboratory science in healthcare cannot be overstated. It is a discipline that impacts virtually every aspect of healthcare, from diagnosis to treatment, and ultimately disease prevention. The continued development of medical laboratory science is essential to the future of healthcare systems around the world.

Types of Samples Processed in a Medical Laboratory

Medical laboratory science is a subset of the healthcare industry that is focused on the analysis and diagnosis of patient samples. A wide variety of different samples are processed in a medical laboratory on a daily basis, each requiring a distinct set of procedures and techniques to be followed for accurate testing. Let’s take a closer look at three different types of samples commonly processed in medical laboratories:

  • Blood Samples: Blood samples are among the most commonly analyzed in a medical laboratory, as they provide a wealth of information about a patient’s health. These samples may be used to perform tests that determine the presence and severity of conditions such as anemia, infections, and cancers. Blood samples may also be used to monitor a patient’s response to treatment or to detect drug abuse. Typically, blood samples are collected via a simple needle prick, and then analyzed using various methods and instruments to obtain accurate results.
  • Urine Samples: Urine samples are another common type of sample processed in a medical laboratory. These samples are typically used to test for conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and diabetes. Depending on the specific test being performed, urine samples may be collected over a period of time, or may be taken as a single, one-time sample. Urine samples may also be used to monitor drug use, as certain substances may remain detectable in urine for extended periods of time.
  • Tissue Samples: Tissue samples are collected from patients undergoing surgery or other medical procedures, and are used to diagnose or monitor conditions such as cancer and other illnesses. These samples may be taken from organs, tissues, or tumors, and may be analyzed using a variety of techniques, including microscopy, histology, and genetic testing. Tissue samples may also be used to monitor a patient’s response to treatment, or to track the progression of a disease over time.


Medical laboratory science is an essential part of the healthcare industry, providing valuable information that is used to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses and conditions. By understanding the different types of samples that are processed in a medical laboratory, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and importance of this field, and the role it plays in helping patients to live longer, healthier lives.

Whether analyzing blood, urine, tissue, or other types of samples, medical laboratory scientists rely on a combination of technical expertise and innovative technologies to produce accurate results that inform clinical decision-making. As the field of medical laboratory science continues to evolve, we can expect to see new methods, techniques, and tools emerge that will enable even more accurate and efficient testing, leading to better outcomes for patients around the world.

Type of Sample Common Uses Collection Methods
Blood Samples Detect anemia, infections, cancers, and monitor drug use or treatment response Needle prick
Urine Samples Test for urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes and monitor drug use or treatment response Single, one-time sample or collected over a period of time
Tissue Samples Diagnose or monitor conditions such as cancer and other illnesses and monitor treatment response or track the progression of a disease over time Collected from organs, tissues, or tumors during medical procedures

Techniques Used in Medical Laboratory Science

Medical laboratory science, also known as medical laboratory technology or clinical laboratory science, is a field of healthcare that plays a vital role in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Medical laboratory scientists use a variety of techniques to analyze body fluids and tissues to detect infectious agents, monitor disease progression, and evaluate the efficacy of treatment. Here are some of the common techniques that are used in medical laboratory science:

  • Microscopy: This technique involves the use of a microscope to examine specimens of blood, urine, or other bodily fluids and tissues. The images produced by microscopy can reveal the presence of abnormal cells or microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
  • Blood Chemistry Analysis: This technique involves analyzing the chemical components of blood, such as electrolytes, enzymes, and metabolites. Blood chemistry analysis can provide information about a patient’s overall health, as well as detect abnormalities that may indicate the presence of disease.
  • Immunology: This technique involves analyzing the body’s immune response to infection or disease. Immunology tests can detect the presence of antibodies, which are proteins that the body produces in response to a specific infection or antigen.

In addition to these techniques, medical laboratory scientists may also use specialized equipment and technologies to perform more complex testing, such as molecular diagnostics, which use DNA analysis to detect genetic mutations or infectious agents. Other techniques used in medical laboratory science include:

  • Flow cytometry
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Electrophoresis
  • Mass spectrometry

The use of these techniques requires extensive training and expertise, as well as state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Medical laboratory science is a constantly evolving field, and new technologies and techniques are continuously being developed and implemented to improve patient care and outcomes.

Examples of Techniques Used in Medical Laboratory Science

Medical laboratory science uses various methods and techniques to diagnose illnesses. Here are some examples of these techniques:

Technique Description
ELISA This technique is used to detect the presence of antibodies in a patient’s blood. It is commonly used to diagnose HIV, hepatitis, and Lyme disease.
Western Blotting Also known as protein immunoblotting, this technique is used to detect specific proteins in a patient’s blood or tissue samples. It is commonly used to diagnose autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Hematology This technique involves the analysis of blood samples to diagnose conditions such as anemia, leukemia, and blood clotting disorders.
Culture and Sensitivity Testing This technique is used to identify infectious organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, and determine which antibiotics or antifungal medications are most effective in treating them.

Overall, medical laboratory science is a critical component of modern healthcare, providing clinicians with vital information to help diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses and diseases.

Challenges Faced by Medical Laboratory Scientists

Medical laboratory scientists play a crucial role in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Despite their essential role, they face numerous challenges in their day-to-day work. In this article, we will discuss some of the common challenges faced by medical laboratory scientists.

  • Workload: Medical laboratory scientists are often overworked, especially in busy clinical laboratories, which can result in burnout and errors. The workload in a clinical laboratory can increase due to various factors such as staff shortages, increasing demand for laboratory services, and inefficiencies in laboratory processes. To mitigate this challenge, laboratory managers should ensure that their staff is adequately trained, and implement tools and methods that increase laboratory efficiency.
  • Interpretation of Test Results: Medical laboratory scientists are responsible for the interpretation of test results, which can be challenging, especially when dealing with complex tests. Incorrectly interpreting test results can lead to misdiagnosis, which can have significant consequences for patients. To mitigate this challenge, laboratory managers should ensure that their staff is well-trained, and provide ongoing education on emerging laboratory techniques.
  • Quality Control: Medical laboratory scientists must ensure the accuracy and precision of their test results. Quality control measures are critical in ensuring that laboratory results are reliable, which is essential in patient care. However, quality control can be time-consuming and expensive. Laboratory managers should invest in quality control programs that are efficient, cost-effective, and meet regulatory requirements.
  • Automation: In recent years, there has been a trend towards automation in clinical laboratories, which has led to increased efficiency and reduced errors. However, automation requires significant investments in equipment, training, and maintenance, which can be a challenge for smaller laboratories. Laboratory managers should carefully evaluate the benefits of automation against the costs and determine the optimal level of automation for their laboratory.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with regulatory requirements is essential in clinical laboratories to ensure patient safety and avoid legal liabilities. However, regulatory requirements can be complex and constantly changing, making it challenging for laboratory managers to keep up to date. Laboratory managers should implement compliance programs and ensure that their staff is well-trained on regulatory requirements.


Medical laboratory scientists face numerous challenges in their day-to-day work, ranging from workload management to regulatory compliance. To overcome these challenges, laboratory managers should implement effective strategies such as workload balancing, ongoing training, and quality control programs. By addressing these challenges, laboratory managers can ensure that their laboratory operates efficiently and provides accurate and reliable results that are essential in patient care.

Career Opportunities in Medical Laboratory Science

If you are considering a career in medical laboratory science, it is important to note that the field offers a wide range of career opportunities. Here are six potential career paths to explore:

  • Medical Laboratory Technologist: This is the most common career path for medical laboratory science graduates. As a medical laboratory technologist, your job involves performing complex tests and examinations on patient samples in order to help diagnose and treat illnesses. You may work in a hospital, clinic, or research setting.
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist: Like medical laboratory technologists, clinical laboratory scientists perform tests and analyses on patient samples. However, as a clinical laboratory scientist, you may also be responsible for supervising other laboratory staff and managing laboratory operations.
  • Research Scientist: If you have an interest in medical research, you may find work as a research scientist in the field of medical laboratory science. Your work may involve developing new laboratory techniques, conducting experiments, and analyzing data to advance scientific knowledge.
  • Medical Equipment Sales Representative: Medical laboratory science graduates can also find work as sales representatives for companies that manufacture and sell medical laboratory equipment. In this role, you will be responsible for promoting and selling products to hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations.
  • Public Health Laboratory Scientist: If you are interested in public health, you may find work as a public health laboratory scientist. Your work may involve testing for diseases and monitoring outbreaks in communities, conducting research on public health topics, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals to promote disease prevention and control.
  • Healthcare Administrator: Medical laboratory science graduates can also find work in healthcare administration roles. As a healthcare administrator, you may oversee laboratory operations in a hospital or other healthcare setting, develop and implement policies and procedures, and manage budgets and personnel.

The Importance of Continuing Education

Regardless of which career path you choose, it is important to note that continuing education is essential in the field of medical laboratory science. Technological advancements and changing healthcare policies mean that professionals in this field must continually update their knowledge and skills. Many organizations require medical laboratory scientists to complete continuing education credits in order to maintain their certifications.

Salary and Job Outlook

Salaries for medical laboratory science professionals vary depending on the specific job, location, and level of experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical and clinical laboratory technologists was $54,180 as of May 2020. The job outlook for medical laboratory science professionals is positive, with an expected job growth of 7% between 2019 and 2029.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (May 2020) Expected Job Growth (2019-2029)
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist $54,180 7%
Clinical Laboratory Scientist $68,560 7%
Research Scientist $89,960 6%
Medical Equipment Sales Representative $63,710 10%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Regulation and Accreditation in Medical Laboratory Science

Medical laboratory science is a profession that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases through laboratory analysis of human samples. The quality of results generated by the laboratory directly affects patient care and therefore regulatory bodies exist to ensure that medical laboratories operate to the highest standards possible. Accreditation ensures that medical laboratories meet those standards. Here are some important facts on regulation and accreditation in medical laboratory science:

  • The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) is the regulatory body for clinical laboratories in the United States. CLIA ensures that laboratories are evaluated for compliance with federal regulations and have the necessary qualifications, equipment, and personnel to perform clinical testing
  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a global standard-setting body that develops requirements for quality management systems for medical laboratories. ISO 15189:2012 is the quality management system designed specifically for medical laboratories and is becoming the global standard for accreditation.
  • Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) is a set of principles that ensures the quality and integrity of nonclinical laboratory studies. This is important for the development of new drugs as the integrity of data is critical to the decision on whether or not a new drug can be approved by regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

One of the most important benefits of accreditation is that it provides assurance to patients, healthcare providers, and regulatory agencies that a laboratory operates to a high standard and produces reliable results. Accreditation involves an external and impartial assessment of a laboratory’s policies, procedures, facilities, and personnel. Accreditation ensures that laboratories have the necessary quality management systems in place, familiarize themselves with the latest technology in their field, and that they participate in ongoing professional education and training. Additionally, accreditation provides benefits to laboratories such as access to specialized training, increased efficiency, and an ability to attract and retain staff.

The following is a table that highlights the accreditation organizations relevant to medical laboratory science across the globe:

Country Accreditation Organizations
United States CAP, AABB, CLIA
United Kingdom UKAS, CPA
Australia NATA, RCPA
New Zealand IANZ, RCPA

Accreditation provides a comprehensive framework for assessing and monitoring the quality of medical laboratory science. It ensures that laboratories operate to the highest standard possible resulting in reliable results that are vital for patient care. As the field of medical laboratory science continues to evolve, regulatory and accreditation bodies will play a key role in ensuring that standards are maintained and continuously improved upon.

What Does a Medical Laboratory Science Do?

Q: What is a medical laboratory science?

A: Medical laboratory science (MLS) is a field of healthcare that uses clinical laboratory tests to help diagnose, treat, and monitor diseases in patients.

Q: What kind of tests are done in a medical laboratory?

A: A wide array of tests can be done in a medical laboratory, including blood tests, urine tests, genetic tests, and more. These tests can help detect infections, abnormalities, or other issues within the body.

Q: Who performs the medical laboratory tests?

A: Medical laboratory technicians and technologists are trained professionals who perform laboratory tests in a clinical setting. They analyze samples of blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids to provide accurate results.

Q: What equipment is used in a medical laboratory?

A: Medical laboratory equipment can vary depending on what tests are being performed. Common tools include microscopes, centrifuges, pipettes, and automated analyzers.

Q: How does a medical laboratory science contribute to patient care?

A: The results of medical laboratory tests are critical in helping doctors make diagnosis and treatment decisions for their patients. MLS professionals work closely with physicians to ensure accurate results are obtained and communicated in a timely manner.

Q: What kind of education is required to become a medical laboratory professional?

A: A bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science or a related field is typically required. Certification and licensing requirements vary by state but may also be necessary.

Q: What is the job outlook for medical laboratory scientists?

A: The demand for medical laboratory professionals is expected to grow in the coming years due to an aging population and advances in medical technology. Job prospects are expected to be strong for those with the right qualifications and experience.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about what a medical laboratory science does. These professionals play a crucial role in helping to diagnose, treat, and monitor diseases and conditions, and their work is essential to patient care. If you have any more questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to your local medical laboratory or healthcare provider. And please come back soon for more informative articles on healthcare topics!