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Overcoming Analysis Paralysis:
Laboratory and Diagnostic Test Interpretation

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Course Description

What is the significance of an elevated mean corpuscular volume (MCV)? What does an elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level with a normal creatinine level indicate? What is the diagnostic difference between ST depression and ST elevation? How does pregnancy affect fibrinogen or platelet levels?

This seminar will look at the answers to these and many other questions regarding laboratory and diagnostic tests. Participants will learn the significance of both the normal findings of numerous commonly ordered laboratory tests as well as the implications of various abnormalities. The course is loaded with case studies to bring laboratory abnormalities to life. Content will cover everything from hematology to chemistry studies, liver function tests to kidney function tests, as well as topics such as interpreting the urinalysis, the electrocardiogram and the chest X-ray. The effects of factors such as age and pregnancy will also be considered. This seminar is meant to enhance the practice of healthcare workers in all clinical areas, from critical care to medical-surgical, surgical services to rehabilitation services.

Program Learning Outcomes

This program prepares the learner to:

  • Review four case studies with multiple laboratory results, and identify the significance of both normal and abnormal laboratory results in each case study.
  • Identify abnormalities in chest X-rays presented during the seminar.
  • Identify abnormalities in 2-Lead and 12-Lead electrocardiograms presented during the seminar, and identify the significance of those abnormalities.


Sign-in begins at 7:30 am. Each day includes a one-hour lunch (on your own), as well as a morning and afternoon break of 15 minutes each. The order of lectures presented and break times may vary according to speaker preference.

Day 1, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

  • Overcoming Analysis Paralysis: An Introduction to Laboratory Tests
    Test Reliability | Reference Values | Critical Values | Phlebotomy
  • Untangling the Alphabet Soup of Hematological Studies
    Blood Basics | Red Blood Cells | Hematocrit | Hemoglobin | Erythrocyte Indices | Anemia Case Study | Reticulocyte Count | Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate | White Blood Cells | Hematology Case Study
  • The Positives and Negatives of Electrolyte Studies
    Extracellular Electrolytes | Intracellular Electrolytes | Electrolyte Neutrality | Anion Gap | Overview of Cellular Membrane Activity | Serum Sodium | Serum Potassium | Serum Chloride | Calcium | Phosphorus
  • Minding Your “Pees” and “Q’s": Renal Function Tests
    BUN | Creatinine | BUN to Creatinine Ration | Creatinine Clearance Test | Osmolality | Urinalysis | Renal Failure  
  • More Alphabet Soup: Liver Function and Pancreatic Function Tests
    Alkaline Phosphate (ALP) | Gamma-Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT) | Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) | Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) | Summary Points and Memory Tips for Liver Function Tests | Serum Ammonia | Bilirubin | Albumin | Amylase and Lipase
  • Plugging Up the Mysteries of Coagulation Studies
    The Clotting Process | Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)
  • CSI: Culture and Sensitivity Investigation
    Microbiology Overview | Culture and Sensitivity | Specimen Collecting Tips and Practical Application

Day 2, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

  • Arterial Blood Gas Interpretation for the ABG Challenged
    Buffering of the Blood pH | Respiratory Acidosis | Respiratory Alkalosis | Metabolic Acidosis | Metabolic Alkalosis | Interpreting the Values with the H Method
  • It’s All Shades of Gray to Me: Interpreting the Chest X-Ray
    Chest Anatomy | Radiographic Imaging | Common Language for CXR | Standardized Approach 
  • Testing Through the Ages
    Pregnancy-Related Hormones | Urine Pregnancy Test | Serum Pregnancy Test | Normal Lab Variances, Blood 
    Gases, Blood Glucose During Pregnancy | Gestational Diabetes | ABGs in Pregnancy | Geriatric Considerations
  • Cardiovascular Studies
    Risk Factors | Cholesterol | C-Reactive Protein | Cardiac Enzymes | Natriuretic Peptides 
  • Case Studies: Group Work
  • Squiggles and Squawks: Interpreting the 2- and 12-Lead ECG
    Background of Electrophysiology | Interpretation in 5 Steps | Specific Rhythms | Practice Strips and Application
  • Review of Case Studies