In a world where routine diagnostic tests are the norm, it is often forgotten by clinicians, patients, and even laboratorians that they have a life-and-death function. Here is a story of how a lab test was a lifesaver.

By Chris Wolski

It’s a well-established fact that about 70%1 of clinical decisions are made as a result of diagnostic tests. In many cases, these decisions are routine and involve non-life-threatening medical conditions. But there are other cases when a lab test is a lifesaver.

A few months ago, a relative of mine was having some discomfort in his chest and general tiredness. When he arrived at the emergency department, he was checked with an EKG. Everything looked normal. That was until his lab work came back. He had had a heart attack, and was scheduled for surgery a few days later (the surgery was a complete success). The lab test was a lifesaver.

Readers of CLP know what they do is important, but sometimes the depth or impact of your work is forgotten by physicians and patients. What you do is as critical as the surgeon and nursing team that took care of my family member–maybe in this case more so. I’m thankful for that lab test. It saved my family member’s life. 

End of the Pandemic

With the end of the Federal Emergency Declaration on May 11, we’re already seeing changes being made to the way we’re all living and working—grocery stores have taken down the plastic shielding, hand sanitizer is plentiful, and nary a mask is in sight—even though SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay.

What this means for laboratory resources and even the routine lab test is yet to be seen, but I think what we can expect is that we have yet to fully realize or understand the full impact of the pandemic on our society and, particularly, the health care system as a whole.

…And Finally

Because of the recent departure of Associate Editor Andy Lundin, Melanie Hamilton-Basich has returned to CLP as its managing editor. I’ve known and worked with Melanie for about a decade and I’m looking forward to having her back on the team! She can be reached at [email protected].

Chris Wolski is chief editor of CLP.


  1. “Strengthening Clinical Laboratories.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nov. 15, 2018.