Medical Laboratory Equipment

Written by Jared Vincenti
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Medical lab equipment may be the most expensive lab equipment to keep on hand. Laboratory rules and state laws strictly govern the handling, storage, and disposal of biological materials. Most scalpels, vials, and other tools for taking samples can only be used once, and must be properly disposed of after coming into contact with blood or other bodily fluids.

Equipment in a Medical Lab

Equipment in a medical lab can be divided into two categories: one-use items, and larger machines. The one-use items are syringes, scalpels, vials, and anything else that cannot be used on more than one person, or even for more than one sample. While these items are functional after one use, they pose great risk of cross-contamination. This could result in tests giving a wrong result, or in the worst scenario, infecting another patient.

While most sterilization processes do kill upwards of 99 percent of micro-organisms, there is always a chance--however slim--that a re-used item could be contaminated. In the interest of malpractice costs and professional ethics, anything that touches a patient will usually be thrown out. Medical labs minimize waste from this practice by making parts interchangeable. For example, only a scalpel blade is tossed, while the handle is kept for a new blade.

The remainder of medical lab equipment is larger machines that do not actually come into contact with body tissue or fluids. This includes centrifuges, spectrophotometers, and other devices necessary for the analysis of microbiological agents. Machines of this nature must be regularly cleaned and sterilized, but do not pose any risk of contaminating other samples with re-use.


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