Types of Pathology Labs

Reference Labs

Reference labs are usually private, commercial facilities that do both high volume and specialty (high complexity and/or rare) laboratory testing. Most of these tests are referred from physician’s offices, hospital facilities and other patient care facilities such as nursing homes. Reference labs, typically located at a site other than the healthcare facilities, are often used for specialized tests that are ordered only occasionally.

Public Health Labs

Public health laboratories are typically run by state and local health departments to diagnosis and protect the public from health threats such as outbreaks of infectious disease. These labs perform tests to monitor the prevalence of certain diseases in the community which are a public health concern, such as outbreaks of foodborne or waterborne illnesses or detection of unique infectious agents.

Hospital Labs

Almost all hospitals contain a laboratory to support the clinical services offered at the hospital. The specific pathology services would include both anatomic (surgical pathology, cytopathology, autopsy) and clinical (laboratory medicine) pathology at most hospitals. Most, if not all, inpatient and many outpatients seen by hospital-affiliated physicians require tests performed by hospital labs.