Mild irritation at our lab tech.

  1. This one is a little strange, but here I go:

    I am a medical assistant (I am taking my NCLEX in less than two weeks though) and I work in a research clinic. All of the medical assistants and nurses are cross trained to do specimen processing in our lab. If our lab tech is overwhelmed, it is expected that we pitch in to help, and to be fair our lab tech is probably the busiest person at our clinic on some days. I don't mind helping--really, I don't but one thing just gets on my nerves about him....

    You see, he never does anything outside of lab work. I hope you don't think I am exaggerating when I say that he won't so much as: answer a phone call, sign for a package, direct a participant to their room, etc. If a delivery worker comes to our clinic and he happens to be near the desk when we need to sign for the package--I am not kidding--he will go out of his way to track down one of us to sign for it. If the phone starts ringing and he is the closest to it, he will either let it ring, or tell one of us to answer it.

    One of his responsibilities is to clean our supply trays with a 10% bleach solution after each visit. If there are a few drops of blood on the tray, he tells us that we have to wipe the tray off before giving it to him--I find it very strange that he would have this squeamish attitude towards blood and bodily fluids IF HE CHOSE TO BE A MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNICIAN!

    If processing instructions aren't clear (each study is a little different), he will tell us to talk to the study coordinator. Why can't he ask them directly? Wouldn't that be more efficient?

    Are my complaints unreasonable? Or is this the common culture among lab techs?
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    About kfostercma

    Joined: Jun '14; Posts: 44; Likes: 36


  3. by   jadelpn
    Sounds as if he is following policy and procedure to a "T".

    That he is there to do only what his job description states he is to do. Period.

    To sign for a package means you are responsible to see that it gets to where it needs to be. And he doesn't want to be responsible for it. To answer the phone that more than likely has nothing to do with him, and he is responsible to find the person the phone call is for--no go, not within his job description.

    And yes, you should wipe off the lab trays. It has nothing to do with being squeamish--cross contamination of blood on a tray is a real thing. And if you are going to use it, then you need to be responsible for wiping it down prior to bringing it back into the lab for a final bleach wipedown by him. This is just good practice, and lowers the risk of contamination.

    People have a bunch of different reasonings, however, if one is "spoken to" enough times regarding their reason for being at work, that they need to stay within their job description, that they are essentially tacking on tasks that they should not be, then one gets pretty vigilant about doing their job and only their job.

    Nurses and med assistants can be and are delegated. Policy dictates what a medical assistant can do and on their job description a nifty little "and other tasks as assigned" is part of it. Following policy, then job descriptions dictate what a nurse can do. Lab techs do not have such a broad scope. They do a very specific job.

    Look at it this way--if you signed for a package that then got lost in the fray, you would be held responsible. If you answered the phone and someone started a whole story that ended up being a nursing question--that is a time waster--and if you were to answer said question with even a "yes, I see" anything can happen and the next thing you know, you are being held responsible for something you didn't even realize you did.

    As it is, I am not sure that there is a comfort level on anyone handling lab specs but the lab guy in question. So with this person, everything needs to be by the book. Sounds to me like he got burnt in the past for doing otherwise.
  4. by   Esme12
    Just as I expect MD's to get rid of their own should clean up a blood spill before giving that tray to someone else.

    I agree with Jade...this guy sticks to what his responsibilities are probably because he has gotten burned in the past.
  5. by   klone
    So wait - the phone rings IN THE LAB, *his* workspace, and he won't answer it? I assume that you guys come there to help out when needed, but that there are times he's alone in the lab? What does he do then, just let the phone go unanswered?

    As far as packages, why are couriers going into the lab to get packages signed? Don't you have a reception desk, security desk, or something of the kind?
  6. by   icuRNmaggie
    I have no medical office experience whatsoever. I do have a lot of experience with difficult personalities.
    As an MA isn't it really your job to answer the phone, draw blood, deal with the clients, schedule appointments and deal with Fed Ex and UPS?
    Whomever makes a mess drawing blood needs to clean it up. If you mean those metal trays are contaminated and no one will wipe them off then that is disgusting. Page the research coordinator for him if needed and nicely hand him the number for future questions.
    When you are an RN you will learn to set boundaries and deal with obstinate ancillary staff. Genteely and with an iron fist.
  7. by   kfostercma
    I see. Thank you for the replies, everyone. I guess you're right, even a barely visible spot of blood is sloppy. Please correct me if I am wrong, but the message I am hearing is something like this:
    The lab tech has a limited scope of practice. That the rest of us are cross trained, it means that our jobs are more secure and we can fill in wherever we're needed. I am still a bit peeved that our lab tech makes no effort to sign for a package or answer a phone (something literally anyone can do), but if it isn't in his job description, it can't be helped.
    Some clarification: We do have an office assistant but she frequently has to leave the desk to unlock rooms, pick up study drugs from the investigational drug pharmacy, pick up mail, etc. so the rest of us step in and cover the front desk when she is out. When there isn't any processing to be done in the lab, sometimes our lab tech will come into the break room to enjoy a beverage--not technically on break, it isn't a good idea to put things in your mouth when you are in a medical lab. I just figured if the rest of us are expected to cover other departments, our lab tech should be no exception.