Koritz Clinic lab puts patients first, increases efficiency

Tony Givens, 14th Medical Support Squadron laboratory services technical supervisor, inspects a test sample Feb. 20, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. From August to January no patients have fainted during blood draws, and the lab continues to strive toward minimizing the risk of patients passing out during the blood drawing process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Tony Givens, 14th Medical Support Squadron laboratory services technical supervisor, inspects a test sample Feb. 20, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. From August to January no patients have fainted during blood draws, and the lab continues to strive toward minimizing the risk of patients passing out during the blood drawing process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hall, 14th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of laboratory shipping, pulls out a blood sample Feb. 20, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 14th Medical Support Squadron laboratory services conduct tests to give doctor’s conclusive evidence to properly diagnose individuals as well giving accurate diagnosis to confidently clear or retract a pilot’s ability to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hall, 14th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of laboratory shipping, pulls out a blood sample Feb. 20, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 14th Medical Support Squadron laboratory services conduct tests to give doctor’s conclusive evidence to properly diagnose individuals as well giving accurate diagnosis to confidently clear or retract a pilot’s ability to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hall, 14th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of laboratory shipping, receives a urine sample Feb. 20, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Blood and urine tests are common for the laboratory on Columbus AFB, providing doctors with the information they need to diagnose patients for a range of diseases and conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hall, 14th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of laboratory shipping, receives a urine sample Feb. 20, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Blood and urine tests are common for the laboratory on Columbus AFB, providing doctors with the information they need to diagnose patients for a range of diseases and conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

The Koritz Clinic Laboratory Services Flight performs tests to give doctors conclusive evidence to properly diagnose individuals as well giving accurate diagnosis to confidently clear or retract a pilot’s ability to fly.

The lab operating under the 14th Medical Support Squadron and their mission is essential to keeping Airmen at Columbus Air Force Base healthy and safe.

Blood testing is common method to help diagnose issues within the human body and is a process not all individuals feel comfortable with. Passing out is seemingly unavoidable for some people and the laboratory services Airmen felt that there was a way to fix that issue.

“For the size of the clinic, our workload is a lot more than I thought it would be because of the smaller size of the base,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hall, 14th MDSS NCO in charge of laboratory shipping. 

With the consistent blood drawings and the issue it presented the team decided to look at ways to find a solution.

“We wanted to do our research to see how many people were passing out and if we could find a way to prevent that as much as possible,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Wilson, laboratory services flight commander. “What we found out was the World Health Organization standard was about 1 percent of patients pass out, and with our amount of monthly patients we were within that standard, but we still wanted to be better and we wanted to bring that number down.”

The flight found predetermining factors that would increase a patient’s risk of passing out such as a history of passing from a previous blood draw, not eating prior to giving blood or working out two hours prior to drawing blood.

“We created a questionnaire to screen for those risk factors, and if they say yes to any of the questions we will take steps to prevent them from passing out,” Wilson said. “One of the steps was we purchased a reclining phlebotomy chair. The chair elevates the individual’s legs so their legs are above their heart, and what that does is keeps the blood from pooling in their legs, which helps prevent the physiological effect of passing out.”

They also provide ice and water for patients before their blood is taken on a case by case basis as another way to prevent some people from passing out.

After making these changes, from August 2017 to January 2018 no patients have passed out during a blood draw, and the laboratory team has executed their goal above and beyond the standard 1 percent in that timeframe.

Although that achievement is a step in the right direction, there are many other things the laboratory services work on to develop their skills; improving urine sample testing times by 20 minutes per sample, earning a high score on a recent College of American Pathologists two-year reaccreditation, and recently completing a bio-safety risk assessment testing for how well equipped the lab is to handle different diseases such as Ebola, they are constantly challenging themselves to be the best they can be, Wilson said.

As the Laboratory Services Flight commander, Wilson is in charge of managing the equipment and more importantly the Airmen in the lab. He works with them to keep operations running smoothly with proper manning and quality equipment, thereby ensuring the results are as accurate as possible.

“Each month we take turns leading a volunteer event with our flight,” Wilson said. “It’s a way for us to get out and work on team building as well as helping the community. Another thing we do monthly is professional development, we each rotate teaching a class within the flight on something that can be found useful such as financial management, communication barriers, and public speaking. It’s a way to develop the Airmen and help us all learn something.”

Wilson and his flight are continuing to better their shop by working on bringing in a rapid flu testing system to bring the results out within 30 minutes instead of the current 48 hour turnaround time.