A basic knowledge of clinical laboratory
procedures is critical for all Hospital Corpsmen,
particularly those working at small dispensaries and
isolated duty stations without the supervision of a
medical officer. A patients complaint may be of little
value by itself, but coupled with the findings of a few
easily completed laboratory studies, a diagnosis can
usually be surmised and treatment initiated.
Hospital Corpsmen who can perform blood and
urine tests and interpret the results are better equipped
to determine the cause of illness or request assistance.
Since they can provide a more complete clinical
picture to the medical officer, their patients can be
In this chapter, we will discuss laboratory
administrative responsibilities, ethics in the laboratory,
the microscope, blood collection techniques, and
step-by-step procedures for a complete blood count and
urinalysis. Also included are basic testing procedures
for bacteriologic, serologic, and fungal identification.
THE HOSPITAL CORPSMAN AND THE
c l i n i c a l l a b o r a t o r y a d m i n i s t r a t i v e
procedures and ethics policy.
The Hospital Corpsman is not expected to make
diagnoses from test findings or to institute definitive
treatment based upon them.
However, with the
availability of modern communications facilities,
having the results of these tests available will greatly
assist the Corpsman in giving a clearer clinical picture
to the supporting medical officer.
Needless to say, accuracy, neatness, and attention
to detail are essential to obtain optimum test results.
Remember also that these tests are only aids to
diagnosis. Many other clinical factors must be taken
into consideration before treatment may be started.
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES AND
The ability to perform clinical laboratory tests is a
commendable attribute of the Hospital Corpsman.
However, the entire testing effort could be wasted if
proper recording and filing practices are ignored and
the test results go astray. As a member of the medical
team, it is your responsibility to make sure that
established administrative procedures are followed
with regard to accurate patient and specimen
It is your further responsibility to
ensure laboratory reports in your department are
handled and filed properly.
Since the test results are a part of the patients
clinical picture, their precision and accuracy are vital.
Test results have a vital bearing upon the patients
immediate and future medical history.
therefore, made part of the patients health record
(inpatient or outpatient). Laboratory reports of
inpatients are placed in the inpatient health record,
while laboratory reports of outpatients are placed in the
outpatient health record.
Laboratory Request Forms
The armed forces have gone to great lengths to
produce workable, effective laboratory forms that
serve their purpose with a minimum of confusion and
chance for error. These forms are standard forms (SF)
in the 500 series. Their primary purpose is to request,
report on, or record clinical laboratory tests. With the
exception of SF-545 (Laboratory Report Display), SF
laboratory forms are multicopied and precarbonized
for convenience. The original copy of the laboratory
report forms are attached to the SF-545 (located inside
the patients heath record), and the carbon copy
becomes part of the laboratorys master file. For a
complete listing of SF forms and their purposes, refer
t o t h e M a n u a l o f t h e M e d i c a l D e p a r t m e n t
(MANMED), NAVMED P-117.
SF laboratory request forms are not the only means
by which healthcare providers can order laboratory
tests. Many of todays naval medical facilities have
computerized laboratory systems.
laboratory systems enable healthcare providers to
enter laboratory test requests into computers located in