Staff shortages of medical laboratory professionals—an ongoing issue, even despite the pandemic—is being exacerbated by booming cases of COVID infections.

Medical labs had already been short-staffed for decades, but the pandemic is making things even worse, said Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, a professor and chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at Texas State University. These professionals had long been “in the shadows of health care,” but they help shine a light on patient ailments through essential lab data.

Without medical laboratory testing, physicians would have to rely on signs and symptoms, he said.

“They just wouldn’t have the necessary data to know how to diagnose your heart attack or your resistant infection or what antibiotic to give you,” Rohde said. “I mean, it’s really, really critical and really, really important, and I don’t think the public always understands that.”

Read the full story at the Dallas Observer.