The pick-up and delivery of medical records, test results, images, specimens and pharmaceuticals among labs, clinics, hospitals and medical offices is the job of a lab courier. The job requires flexibility, reliability, organization and a good knowledge of the local street and interstate system.
Vehicles and Dress
Lab couriers use vans or passenger vehicles, in most cases supplied by the company operating the medical lab. Couriers that use their own vehicles are reimbursed on a mileage basis for fuel and upkeep of the vehicle. In large cities with dense traffic and scarce parking, some couriers use motorbikes or bicycles to get around. Some companies require couriers to wear a uniform; all have a dress code.
The basic task of a lab courier is to shuttle between medical testing facilities and the hospitals and offices that have ordered the tests. Many clinics and other medical facilities do not have adequate staff or equipment to run the full range of tests and imaging that are currently available; instead, these facilities contract out medical testing to independent companies that operate diagnostic labs. Couriers pick up and deliver samples and specimens for testing, using a fixed schedule that brings them to their stops at about the same time every day.
Tools of the Trade
Couriers routinely use cell phones to get instructions and directions. They also use handheld scanners to keep track of deliveries, uploading information on delivery times and shipment contents to a centralized database. Some labs outfit their vehicles with GPS systems that allow the couriers to easily navigate local streets. An excellent knowledge of daily traffic patterns and alternate routes to each location stop is essential for a lab courier.
In general, lab couriers need to have a high school diploma, a driver’s license and a clean driving record. A good knowledge of medical terminology and basic medical procedures is an asset for job candidates in this field. Couriers should be in good physical condition and be able to occasionally lift up to 50 pounds. Lab couriers must be cautious in handling packages and organized, as any disarray in labeling or sorting lab specimens and test results can have dire consequences for medical offices and their patients.
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