Ask the Expert with Barry Craig | July 2013

Happy Summer! If you live in the deep South as I do, summer means HOT, sticky weather. But this year, no corner of our country has escaped the relentless heat. So with that in mind, I have one Southern joke about heat that can be adapted to where you live. It was so hot in (place town here), I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking.................

ot weather can put a strain on cooling systems, equipment, etc. Make sure that your lab environment is still meeting the temperature guidelines for your instruments. Close shades on windows and keep instruments, kits, etc. out of direct or indirect sunlight. Now to this month's questions.

I had a glucose read HIGH on my meter in the pediatric office where I work. We sent the child on to the emergency room and their glucose reading was 812 mg/dl. Is there any way I could do a dilution and get a result myself if this happens again?

First, you would have to know the linearity of your meter. When it reads high, at what number did the meter stop giving a result? This can be found in the product literature. Second, you would have to be able to dilute accurately which would mean using a calibrated pipette for the dilution. Third, you would need to know the acceptable diluents to use. Water may not be acceptable, saline might be required.

How can I use Proficiency Testing for competency evaluation of employees? I know PT has so many rules and penalties, I don't want to do anything wrong.

PT is great for competency evaluation. Just keep the specimen leftovers and once the results come back, let other employees perform the tests and then grade them yourself from the results report. Also, you must designate on the PT face sheet who will be performing the PT testing. It is ok for others to run the tests as well, but only the designated person's results can be submitted. Always mark the results achieved in PT testing with the person's name who ran it.

I was told I cannot wear open-toed shoes in the lab. What are some of the guidelines for the lab environment?

  1. Open-toed shoes are a no-no. Also, if you have mats in the lab to ease foot fatigue, they cannot be porous. Nothing could be worse than a mat that can hold liquids such as urine, blood, etc.
  2. Applying cosmetics, eating and drinking are certainly not allowed in the lab. This also applies to lip balm, chewing gum, etc.
  3. No jewelry that could snag or interfere with operations should be worn.
  4. Most hospital systems have banned artificial nails because of the potential for bacterial growth under the nails. The bacteria could be passed on to a sick or compromised patient.

Lab Question Challenge

Our winner in last month's the Lab Question Challenge was Lee Ann Hallman from Birmingham, AL. She won a new car. (Please, I can't pay for my own car).
She did win a nice prize, though.

Now for a new question! Remember, no using the Internet to answer. Send answers to

What is name of the principle that goes with this description? Hint: It is named for its inventor.

Particles pulled through an orifice, concurrent with an electric current, produce a change in impedance that is proportional to the volume of the particle traversing the orifice. This pulse in impedance originates from the displacement of electrolyte caused by the particle displacement.



Barry Craig


Expert on physician office laboratories and diagnostic equipment

Barry works almost exclusively with POLs and understands the needs and challenges they face. With more than 20 years of lab consulting experience, his company works with office lab start-ups, inspection follow-ups, and help with the CLIA, COLA and JCAHO regulatory issues offices face daily. He offers a unique insight and customer focused approach to the lab and its solutions. In his current role as President of Laboratory Consulting, LLC, Barry is leading the way for physician's offices to develop their in-house labs as a place to obtain fast, accurate results and maintain a healthy profit using the latest technology available.

Being in touch with the POL community nationwide his company has a unique insight into the problems and questions that arise from the operation of a POL.