A Look Into the History of Clinical Pathology Laboratories
If you look at the history of clinical pathology laboratories, you would be surprised to know that the earliest of these labs were often compacted in a single room. A small number of tests were done manually by the staff, usually by hand. Color changes in specimens were done using visual observation. If there were any abnormal cells in blood films, any inflamed cells or crystals (atypical) in urinary sediment samples, monocular microscopes would be the primary tool for verification. These tools would also be used to search for bacteria and other types of foreign particles in specimens.
Before World War I, a small collection of biochemists employed in the general location of New York and Boston determined that tests using clinical pathology laboratories were needed to obtain quantitative results in order to discover underlying disease in a subject. These biochemists would then use manometers to determine blood gas levels, colorimeters for chemical reaction quantification and fluorometers that can quantify the different aspects of blood electrolytes. These crude materials were used on the period between World War I and II. Mouth pipetting was the primary dispersion for samples and the used reagents. Shockingly for today’s standards, food, garbage and lit cigarettes placed on top of work areas were a common sight. Just like in any other scientific work place, those who ran clinical pathology laboratories then employed strict rules for loose litter thus eliminating the chances of contamination in the samples.
An important transition on how testing was done for clinical pathology laboratories happened after WWII. Logarithmic multiplication of the tests done in the labs and the rise of sophisticated instruments as well as improvements on lab administration happened in the small period between the late 50’s and well into the middle of the 60’s. These advances have blossomed to form the strict rules and practices done in today’s modern laboratories.