Clinical biochemistry

The clinical biochemistry department provides a biochemistry service to the hospitals, GPs and community services such as psychiatry. The department offers a wide range of tests, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What is clinical biochemistry?

Clinical biochemistry is where body fluids such as blood and urine are tested. Biochemistry tests can be used to detect disease and may also be used to monitor long term conditions such as diabetes and raised cholesterol levels.

Common biochemistry measurements include:

  • kidney function tests
  • liver function tests
  • cholesterol
  • hormones
  • glucose and HbA1c
  • drug monitoring

What happens to your sample?

All samples are checked on receipt that they are labelled with the patient details and are accompanied by a request form with patient details, the tests requested and some information about why the tests are required. Each sample is barcoded and information recorded on the laboratory computer system.

Samples are centrifuged (spun at high speed to separate the red cells from the serum) and the tests analysed on the serum. Biomedical scientists put the samples onto analysers and run quality control to make sure the results are right. All results are compared to a reference range and depending on the result, most are sent directly to the GP surgery through electronic links. Some samples are referred to clinical biochemists for comments to help doctors understand the results and suggest other tests that may be needed.

How do staff keep up to date?

The department holds meetings every two weeks where training is given to staff (known as continuing professional development). This may be something really new and exciting that we’re starting to do or it may be to revisit an older subject.