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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:

  • List the order that blood tubes should be drawn.
  • Verbalize at least three factors when performing phlebotomy that can alter the reliability of blood tests.
  • Differentiate between specificity and sensitivity when analyzing blood test results.


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 4:00 pm

  • Overcoming Analysis Paralysis: An Introduction to Laboratory Tests
    Definitions | Phlebotomy | Units of Measure
  • Untangling the Alphabet Soup of Hematology Studies
    Studies of the Various Blood Cells | Erythrocyte Indices and Anemia | The White Blood Cell Differential
  • The Positives and Negatives of Electrolyte Studies
    Potassium Imbalances | Sodium Imbalances | Chloride Imbalances | Magnesium Imbalances | Calcium Imbalances | Phosphate Imbalances
  • CSI: Culture and Sensitivity Investigations
    Basics of Microbiology | Collecting Various Cultures | Markers for Infection and Sepsis
  • Minding Your “Pees” and “Q’s": Renal Function Tests
    Blood Urea Nitrogen | Creatinine | Osmolality | Urinalysis
  • More Alphabet Soup: Liver Function and Pancreatic Function Tests
    Liver Enzymes | Ammonia Levels | Bilirubin | Albumin | Lipase and Amylase
  • Plugging Up the Mysteries of Coagulation Studies
    Prothrombin Time and Partial Thromboplastin Time | Platelet and Fibrinogen Levels | Fibrin Degradation Products
  • What a Bloody Mess: The Blood Bank
    Differentiating Blood Types | Blood Transfusions and Reactions | Coombs Test

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

  • Arterial Blood Gas Interpretation for the ABG Challenged
    Basic Blood Gas Abnormalities | Mixed Blood Gas Abnormalities | Partially Compensated and Compensated Blood Gas Abnormalities
  • It’s All Shades of Gray to Me: Interpreting the Chest X-Ray
    How the X-Ray Works | Identifying Major Landmarks on the Chest X-Ray | Recognizing Pathologies on the Chest X-Ray
  • Testing Through the Ages
    Geriatric Patients | Pregnant Patients
  • Heart Smarts: Lipid Profiles and Cardiac Enzymes
    Lipid Profiles | Cardiac Enzymes
  • Case Studies: Group Work
  • Squiggles and Squawks: Interpreting the 2- and 12-Lead ECG
    Basics of Electrophysiology | Approaching 2-Lead ECGs | Differences Between 2-Lead ECGs and 12-Lead ECGs | The 12-Lead ECG and the MI
  • Review of Case Studies