The UPMC Beacon Hospital Laboratory Service
Here at the new UPMC Beacon Hospital Laboratory we are in the fortunate position of being able to offer all our patients, in-patients and out-patients alike, a truly "State of the Art" facility. Our brand new laboratory contains the most up-to-date, automated and quality equipment available in the country. In addition to this, we have a sincerely dedicated, highly qualified, professional team of scientists and pathologists, whose aim is to ensure that you get the most accurate, precise and reliable test results in as short a time as possible.
We operate a full clinical and diagnostic service which aids Consultants and GPs in the diagnosis and management of disease, including monitoring of specific treatments and therapeutic drugs.
The laboratory provides a phlebotomy service for both in-patients and out-patients. Phlebotomy simply means taking blood from a patient. Our phlebotomists are highly trained professionals who take patients blood samples quickly, safely and efficiently ensuring minimum disruption to the patient. While an in-patient, our phlebotomists come to your bedside to take the blood samples. If you are an out-patient the sample will be taken in our dedicated Out Patient Phlebotomy area.
If your doctor has already taken your blood sample you may drop the sample directly into the laboratory.
The Laboratory is divided into six main specialist areas, each covering a different aspect of test analysis. What follows is a brief explanation of some of the services and tests provided by our laboratory.
This laboratory tests for specific chemical analytes in the blood. While the Biochemistry laboratory tests for a wide range of analytes, the most common tests requested are Blood Glucose (Blood Sugar), Cholesterol, Liver Function Tests and Cardiac Enzymes. These tests aid in the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases such as Diabetes, Arteriosclerosis and Liver and Heart dysfunction.
Testing for therapeutic drug monitoring is also performed, which enables patients to be kept on the optimum level of the drug they require for their particular treatment.
This laboratory tests for the presence of viral markers, tumour markers, auto-immune disorders and allergies. These tests aid in the diagnosis of specific disease states such as Hepatitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Auto-Immune Disease and early diagnosis of certain types of cancer.
The allergy testing will help identify the main trigger for a person’s allergy. This is particularly relevant for Dermatology and Asthma patients.
This department estimates the number and quality of the cells that comprise your blood system. The most common tests performed are Full Blood Counts and specific Cell Differentiation estimation. This test is an indication of your general state of health. It allows the diagnosis of specific Anaemia, Leukaemia and many other blood disorders. Here in the Haematology laboratory, we also test for the clotting ability of your blood, this is especially relevant for Deep Vein Thrombosis and patients on Warfarin therapy.
This department identifies the organisms (bacteria/viruses/fungi or parasites) in your body that are causing infection. When the organism is identified we then go on to determine the best antibiotic to destroy the causative organism, which in practical terms means you should better faster. This is particularly critical in relation to suspected cases of Meningitis, and these are always treated as emergencies are processed immediately. The usual infections dealt with are Urinary Tract (UTI), Respiratory infections and Gastro-intestinal infections.
Pregnancy tests are also performed in this department.
In this department we test patients' blood types and investigate their blood for the presence of any rare blood group antibodies. Patients undergoing surgical procedures will always have their blood group tested and investigated in case they may require a blood transfusion during or after surgery. Patients that have Haematology disorders who require support transfusions are also tested regularly. In this way we can ensure that we will always have the exact blood type match for all our patients. Our priority is to ensure that our patients receive the safest possible transfusion of Blood and Blood Products.
This department also deals with HLA testing which is generally performed for patients requiring organ transplants.
This area provides diagnosis of clinical lesions and tumours. It provides essential information on the diagnosis and progression of malignancy, which allows for early detection and prognosis, and provides invaluable information on the best type of treatment therapy.
Results Turnaround Times
As our hospital is fully computerised throughout, your blood test results are transmitted in real time to all areas of the hospital. Most routine Haematology and Chemistry and Blood Transfusion results should be available within 2 hours. Immunology results are generally available in 2-3 days. Microbiology results typically take 24 – 48 hours, simply because it takes this long to grow the organisms. Histopathology results take a bit longer, due to the time it takes to process and prepare the tissue, but results are generally available in 3-4 days. Occasionally because further specialised testing is required, results may take longer than this but an interim report will be issued in these cases.
Currently all out-patients results will be posted out daily. We plan to role out a real time web based Result Systems to all GPs so that they will be able to retrieve and access patient results as soon as they are completed in the laboratory.
Phlebotomy Tel: 01 293 7513
Laboratory Tel: 01 293 6693
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why do I need a blood test?
Because blood is the body’s main carrier of nutrients, waste products and oxygen, it offers physicians a very important tool for diagnosing and monitoring health. Many forms of disease can be detected by various types of blood tests.
Blood can be tested for many different factors. For example, the doctor may need to know the number of red or white blood cells present, or the amount of oxygen or carbon dioxide circulating in the blood.
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Q. What are the different types of blood test?
While numerous different blood tests are performed every day in laboratories. Generally speaking there are five main types of blood tests: Haematology, Biochemistry, Blood Transfusion, Microbiology and Serology.
Determine the numbers and types of blood cells that are present, their appearance and state of maturity.
The ability of blood to form clot and how quickly that occurs.
Measure the levels of normally occurring chemicals in the blood. These results are compared to normal ranges and are used to determine whether blood chemicals are in a proper and healthy balance.
These tests can be used to indicate how well some organs and organ systems are functioning. For example, the amount of blood sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream can help diagnose or monitor diabetes, and indirectly reflect how much insulin is being produced by the pancreas.
Blood Transfusion tests:
Identify an individual specific blood type and whether they have any unusual or rare blood antibodies.
Examine blood for the presence of infectious microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Detect the presence of specific antibodies that are produced by white blood cells. They are frequently used to detect viral diseases.
Q. Do I need to do anything to prepare for a blood test?
Preparation for blood tests varies according to the requirements of each specific test. In most cases minimal preparation is necessary. You may need to reduce or stop certain medications at some point prior to the test. Sometimes, food intake and exercise may need to be temporarily restricted or suspended. Your doctor will advise you in advance of any specific preparations you need to make prior to your blood test. Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided prior to a blood test.
Q. What blood tests do I need to fast for?
Obtaining a blood sample takes only about five minutes, and most patients find the procedure to be virtually painless. For most blood tests, there is very little preparation, and people can generally go right back to their usual daily activities afterwards. Your doctor will advise you on any specific preparations you need to make prior to giving the blood sample.
Fasting is generally required for the following tests:
Glucose Tolerance tests (GTT) require an initial fasting sample, plus a second sample taken two hours after eating.
Serum lipids, for example cholesterol and triglycerides.
Q. What is involved in giving a blood sample?
Blood is usually drawn from a vein in a process called venipuncture. The person taking the blood sample is called a Phlebotomist.
During a venipuncture, the Phlebotomist inserts a needle into a vein – usually at the inside of the elbow. The area around the puncture site is cleaned with rubbing alcohol and a wide elastic band called a tourniquet, is placed around the upper arm to slightly increase the pressure in the vein. One end of a sterile double-ended needle that has been attached to an open-ended syringe (which contains an empty test tube) is inserted into the vein. Because the test tube contains a partial vacuum, blood flows directly from the vein through the double-ended needle and into the test tube.
The precise amount of blood to be drawn is determined by the type and number of tests to be done. The phlebotomist may change test tubes once or twice during the venipuncture to either allow for more blood to be collected or to change the type of tube being used:
After the necessary amount of blood is drawn, the needle is withdrawn and a small cotton ball or pad is applied with light pressure over the puncture site. After several minutes, the cotton will be discarded or replaced, and a small bandage will be placed on the puncture wound. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes.
After giving the blood sample, patients may resume medications and food intake according to their physician’s orders.
Q. How soon do I get the test results?
All your blood test results will be sent directly to your doctor. Most blood tests results should be received by your doctor within about 3 days. Certain blood tests, for example Microbiology and Serology tests take longer to process but generally should be available with 7 days.