Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

Regional Introduction

Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional Laboratory
Outpatient/Regional Laboratory Test Index

Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Health System
Regional Hospitals
Mercy Family Care Network Clinics
1000 Fourth Street
Mason City, Iowa 50401

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
              Medical Director Greeting

    1. Client Services, Support
      CLIA Accreditation number
      Client Services
      Courier Service
      Technical Support

    2. Forms, Billing, Supplies
      Requisition forms
      Supplies Furnished

    3. Specimen and Specimen Collection
      Collection Procedures

    4. Testing
      Testing Schedule
      Emergencies, STAT testing
      Mercy Emergency Services
      Reflex Testing
      Referred Testing to Mayo Medical Laboratories, UHL

    5. Reports
      Report Format Form
      Courier Delivery of Reports
      Specialized Testing and Reports
  1. Special Helps
  2. Cytology Collection Guide

A greeting from the Medical Director:

Following the Mercy Health Services mission of sharing in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ by striving to improve the health and well being of those we serve, Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional Laboratory strives to provide the utmost in quality laboratory and diagnostic services to our clients.

The Laboratory is accredited by The Joint Commission. 

Over one hundred laboratory employees analyze, assess, and report findings on a 24-hour per day basis. Five board certified pathologists oversee the quality and performance of the technical areas, including Hematology, Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology, Blood Bank, Serology, Microbiology, Anatomic Pathology, and Cytology.

The technical functions of the laboratory are supported by competent secretarial and clerical staff, manning the phones, computers, and fax machines to speed reports to clients.  Daily specimen pickup is provided to regional customers by a dedicated group of couriers, who take pride in carefully handling and delivering an average of over 500 clinical samples per weekday.  In addition, our technical consulting to regional clients keeps them informed and in compliance with the latest methods as well as mandated regulations.

By serving our clients, we display the Mercy values of Mercy, Human Dignity, Justice, Service, and Preference for the Poor.  We welcome you to the services and benefits of Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional Laboratory, and appreciate the opportunity to assist in your therapeutic and diagnostic quests.


Steven P. Goetz, M.D.
Medical Director
Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa  Laboratory

  1. Client Services, and Support

    Accreditation Information

    Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa  Laboratory
         CLIA number 16DO384014

  2. Reference Laboratories used by Mercy

    Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester, MN    
          CLIA number 24DO404292
          CAP number 55901-002

    University Hygienic Laboratory, Iowa City, IA
          CLIA number 16DO648109

    University Hygienic Laboratory, Des Moines, IA
          CLIA number 16DO709301

    University of Iowa Hospitals/Clinics, Iowa City, IA
          CLIA number 16DO648109
          CAP number 52240-002

    LifeServe, Des Moines, IA
          CLIA number 16DO383665

    Specialty Laboratories, Inc., Los Angeles, CA
           CLIA number 05DO550302

    Viromed Laboratories, Minnetonka, MN 
          CLIA number 24DO400424

    MedTox Laboratories, St. Paul, MN

    Marshfield Laboratories, Marshfield, WI
          CLIA number 52DO663760
          CAP number 17885-01

    United States Drug Testing Lab, INC.
          2201 W. Campbell Park Drive
          Chicago, IL   60612-354701
               CLIA number 14D0712964

    Client Services

    Mercy Laboratory's client service staffed by thoroughly trained and experienced personnel, familiar with requests from laboratorians, physicians, and nurses.  They provide preliminary and final test results, specimen requirements, any assistance your laboratory may need.  Our toll free line is staffed from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Calls outside these hours are answered by laboratory clerical staff or testing personnel in the laboratories. Access client services locally by dialing 641-428-6086; or call toll free 800-243-6086.

    Courier Service

    Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional laboratory provides full service courier pickup of specimens and delivery of reports to clients Monday through Friday.  Hospital clients may request weekend pickups as needed. The courier staff is dedicated to preserving specimen integrity and identification, assuring quality of testing in the preanalytical handling phase. Supplies and requisition forms are delivered to clients through the courier network as well. Contact courier services through Client Services by calling locally at 641-428-7256; or toll free 800-243-6086.

    Technical Support

    Mercy Regional Lab Manager and Technical Consultants

    The team of Regional Lab Manager and Technical Consultants is your direct link between your laboratory and Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional Lab.  These team members make regular visits to you, solving problems, correcting billing, setting up new pricing and codes, training you and your staff on new testing and procedures, and with technical or regulatory assistance.  You can reach your team directly by phone as well in-between visits. Periodic technical visits are provided to assist the laboratory in monitoring internal quality and accuracy of test systems.  Documentation is provided in summary form upon completion of the visit for supervisory review. 

    Validation, Normal Range, Method Studies

    To assist you in implementing new procedures, contact the Regional Laboratory Manager or the Technical Consultant to obtain samples, perform data analysis, or to recommend procedures to follow in accordance with regulatory guidelines.

    Calibration Services

    Yearly instrument check visits are provided on site to assist your laboratory in upkeep and monitoring of its sensitive equipment.  This includes:

    • Calibration of thermometers with NBS standardized thermometer
    • Calibration of timers and centrifuges
    • Other services as needed or by request.

    Educational seminars and meetings

    Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional Laboratory holds bimonthly meetings for hospital and clinic laboratory personnel.  Educational information, from basic skills updates to new test offerings and their clinical application, is covered. Regulatory updates, along with networking and sharing of technical expertise among the group, keeps staff up to date and in tune with their profession.  Clients may request specific training  to address specific needs. Our laboratory technical staff and pathologists are available for speaking engagements and phone consultation, to assist in interpretation of test results and technology. Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Laboratory publishes a news letter called Lab Links that focuses on new tests and information needed by our clients; and other patient and physician oriented literature pieces. 

  3. Supplies, Forms, Billing

    Requisition Forms

    General Laboratory requisitions

    Our three-part requisition form, utilized for routine lab tests and microbiology cultures, are preprinted with your facility name and account number.  Requisition forms contain commonly ordered tests.  Columns are provided for documenting Medical Necessity or Screening test orders.  On the reverse is a key to tests included in the panel groupings.  Clients are requested to label tubes and requisitions identically, including the patient's full first, last name and middle initial, second patient identifier i.e. date of birth or medical record number, and all other requested information. Complete the billing information and check  proper Bill To box if your clinic or hospital is to be billed, or if third party billing/patient billing is to be performed by us.  Diagnosis code, verbal diagnosis, signs or symptoms must also be included. The third copy of the requisition may be retained by the referring laboratory.  Enclose the first and second copy of the requisition in the biohazard ziplock bag with its specimen. Labels are provided at the top of the form as a second form of positive patient identification, to be placed on specimen tubes or culture samples. Please indicate culture source for microbiology specimens.  Complete draw times for therapeutic drug levels.  Indicate volume of 24 hour urine collections when aliquots are sent. Creatinine Clearance samples require a serum sample submitted along with the urine aliquot.

    Pathology requisitions

    Pathology specimen request forms are a pink, four-part form.  They are prelabeled with client name and account number.  Clients may retain the fourth copy for their records, and submit parts 1-3 with the specimen. Frozen section consultation request forms are a white, two-part form. Clients are requested to label specimens and requisitions identically, including the patient's full first, last name and middle initial, second patient identifier i.e. date of birth or medical record number, and all other requested information.  Complete preoperative or clinic visit history related to specimen must be provided. Please complete billing information and check proper Bill To box if your clinic or hospital is to be billed, or if third party billing/patient billing is to be performed by us.  The Pathology Associates of Mason City billing information form may also be completed and attached with billing information; or we will accept hospital or computer printouts of admission/billing forms.  Diagnosis code, verbal diagnosis, signs or symptoms must also be included.

    Cytology requisitions

    The cytology requisition is a three-part form.  Requisitions are prelabeled with client name and account number.  Clients may retain the third copy, and send the first and second copy with the specimen. Clients are requested to label specimens and requisitions identically, including the patient's full first and last name and middle initial.  Frosted end glass slide should be labeled in pencil.  Include other requested information such as birth date, physician, etc.  Complete patient history of LMP, clinical history, medications, and previous pap history. Please complete billing information and check  proper Bill To box if your clinic or hospital is to be billed, or if third party billing/patient billing is to be performed by us.   We will accept hospital or computer printouts of admission/billing forms; please staple these to the requisition.  Diagnosis code, verbal diagnosis, signs or symptoms must also be included.

    University Hygienic Laboratories

    University Hygienic Laboratory Lead requisition.  UHL requests specific patient information for certain assays.  Please fill out the UHL form with required information, to accompany the Regional Laboratory General test requisition.

    Mayo Medical Laboratories

    Use only the Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Reference Laboratory forms for Mayo requisitions.  If the Mayo Reference Catalog indicates a special form needs to be utilized and it is not supplied in their catalog to be copied and completed, call our Client Services to request needed supplies.


    Specialty labels are available for frozen assays such as PSA, for further testing such as MONOSCREEN IS NEGATIVE when Monolert is requested.  Please affix label to requisition.

    Billing Service

    Mercy Regional Laboratory provides a monthly bill, which includes service date, patient name, test performed, and price.  Third party billing is performed by Mercy when patient-billing information is provided, and the PATIENT/INSURANCE box is checked on the requisition. If credits, or a change to third party billing is required, simply provide the information on the Billing Change Form.  Return this via your courier and your account will be credited. For pricing errors or other discrepancies, contact the Regional Lab Manager or Technical Consultant for assistance.

    Daily Billing Report

    The laboratory can provide on a daily basis, a report on surgical pathology charges or microbiology charges generated from specimens and their testing. The daily billing report assists the client in charging appropriate CPT codes and dollar amounts on specimens which, when submitted to the Mercy Regional Laboratory, may not be known what the charges will be. 


    Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Regional Laboratory has set a tone to compete for its clients with reasonable prices, excellent service, and local support.  In a business where lab tests are becoming a commodity, we believe that the patients of Northern Iowa can enjoy VALUE:  that is, services performed cost effectively, at the highest quality level possible, expediently, with dignity and respect. Prices are published on a listing corresponding to the tests and abbreviations used in this Lab Test Index.  Provided on the price list is Test Name, Test Abbreviation, CPT code, client bill price and Mercy patient bill price.   See separate tab for Price List.

    Supplies Furnished

    A Mercy Regional Laboratory supply request form follows as illustration.  Supplies are provided free of charge for transfer tubes, shipping containers and biohazard bags, forms, and catalogs.  Supplies are shipped immediately on request or availability. 

    Labels for shipping specialty tests or specimens requiring special handling are also furnished.

    Requisition forms are provided as needed for Blood, Pathology, and Cytology testing, and will be preprinted when supplied with client identity.

    See the following pages for supply request form and supplies provided.

  4. Specimens and Specimen Collection

    All specimen containers delivered to the Laboratory must be labeled with patient name, second patient identifier, (medical record number or date of birth) date and time of collection and collectors initials. All non-blood specimens must include the source.  This includes stool, urine, nasal wash specimens. Source information must include the main source (leg, BAL, etc.) and any other descriptive information (left, right, upper, etc.) is useful.   

    • MRSA is not a source. A surveillance culture should read MRSA-nasal or MRSA- leg left (or appropriate description).
    • A specimen for RSV or influence testing should read RSV- Nasal wash or FLU-Nasal wash.
    • A specimen for fluid culture should read Aerobic – Pleural, left   Anaerobic – Pleural, left

    Identification must be placed directly on the portion of the container which contains the specimen. Labeling the lid, wrapper, cardboard slide container, or any attached order form is unacceptable for specimen identification. NOTE: It is recommended that any specimen container/tube delivered to the laboratory, should have all the tests requested written on the container. It is especially helpful with CSF and body fluids.

    Blood Bank Testing: Identification will also include the patient's Medical Record number (confirmed with a check mark by the number) and initials of the person collecting the specimen. The patient will have a hospital band or emergency identification band in place.

    Cytology Slides: For slides, identification will be on the frosted end of the slide, not on the container. ThinPrep vials and any other fluid containers must be labeled with patient name and a second form of identification.

    Computer generated labels are acceptable if they contain the above information or if this information can be added by the collector. Please put one patient and one requisition per each biohazard specimen bag.  It is recommended to make out separate requisitions per patient if blood and culture specimens are both being submitted.  Place tube or specimen inside of the zip lock portion and zip closed.  Place folded requisition inside pocket of bag.

    Collection Procedures

      1. The phlebotomist must ensure that the blood specimen is being drawn from the correct person. 
        1. In an outpatient setting, ask the patient to state his/her full name, including the spelling of an unusual name and a second patient identifier.
        2. Compare the name with that on the request form and tube labels, if available.
          In an inpatient setting, such as a Nursing Home, compare your information with the patient's name and medical records or ID number. When entering the room, identify yourself to the patient and state that you have come to draw blood for a laboratory test.
        3. Ask the patient to state his/her full name, including the spelling of an unusual name. If the patient cannot answer, a relative or nursing personnel may be asked.  Compare the information with that found on the patient's identification bracelet.
        4. The venipuncturist should gain the patient's confidence and assure him that, although the venipuncture will be slightly painful, it will be of short duration.  Patients should never be told that "this will not hurt" and they should be told when the needle enters the skin to avoid fright.

      2. Blood Bank specimens:
        If a blood product is to be transfused to the patient by Mercy or Mercy Home Care personnel, the patient must be wearing an armband containing the medical record number, which has been obtained from Mercy registration.  Specimen tubes must be identified with patient first and last name, date, time and initials of the collector.  A check mark T must be placed by the medical record number indicating that the medical record number has been verified against the armband on the patient by the person drawing the specimen.

      3. The phlebotomist must ensure that the correct tubes are used for the test that are ordered.
        1. Evacuated tubes come with color-coded stoppers for ease of identification.  Vacutainers for routine use may be identified by the following colors; when drawing more than one vacutainer, a certain order of draw is to be followed:
          NAVY BLUE - Metal Free, no additive        
          BLUE- Citrate
          RED- No additive
          SST Separator tube
          GREEN- Heparin
          PURPLE- EDTA
          GRAY- Oxalate/fluoride

      4. Venipuncture Procedure
        1. Assemble the following supplies:
          a. Collection tubes, needles, syringe or vacutainer system
          b. Tourniquet
          c. Alcohol prep pads
          d. Povidone- iodine swab sticks if blood culture is ordered
          e. Dry gauze pads
          f. Bandaid (optional)
        2. The patient may be in either a sitting or prone position.  It is of great importance that the arm is in a straight line from shoulder to wrist and not bent at the elbow.
        3. Select the vein site.
          For most venipuncture procedures on adults, veins located in the arm are used. The median cubital vein is the one used most often because it is large, close to the skin surface and least painful to the patient. If this is not successful, the cephalic or basilic veins may be used. It is to be noted that these veins bruise and "roll" more easily.
        4. Apply a tourniquet, ask the patient to make a fist, palpate the vein with your forefingers to feel for the best location.
        5. Release the tourniquet, put on gloves, cleanse the venipuncture area with alcohol swab using a circular Motion from the center of the vein site outward.  The area is allowed to dry to prevent possible hemolysis of the specimen and to avoid a burning sensation to the patient.
        6. If the skin is touched after it has been cleansed, the procedure must be repeated.
        7. The appropriate needle is attached to the syringe or to the evacuated tube holder.  The cover of the needle must not be removed until immediately before the venipuncture to avoid contamination.
        8. Reapply the tourniquet, remove the needle cover and inspect the needle to detect any defects such as burrs or broken areas. Gently grasp the patient's arm, using the thumb to anchor the vein. With a smooth motion, enter the vein with the needle bevel up.  As the point of the needle passes through the vein wall, a release is felt.
        9. One hand holds the vacutainer holder while the other presses the vacutainer onto the butt end of the needle.  The blood will be drawn into the vacutainer until the vacuum is exhausted, ensuring a correct ratio of blood to additive when applicable.  Remove the filled vacutainer; additional tubes may be filled as needed.
        10. If a syringe is used, as for difficult draws, slight pulling of the plunger is needed after the vein is entered. Fill to the volume desired.  Fill tubes in proper order after inserting the needle into the tubes.
        11. For difficult patients with small or fragile veins, "winged collection" or "butterfly" sets with tubing may be used. These are available with different size needles with tubing that may be attached to a syringe.
        12. Ask the patient to release his fist then release the tourniquet and apply dry sterile gauze to the puncture site.  Carefully remove the needle without pressing the point down as it is removed.  The gauze is held firmly over the venipuncture sight and may be wrapped with a gauze bandage.  A bandaid may also be used.
        13. Label the patients specimen with a minimum of draw date, time, initials of collector,  and the patient's full first and last name.

      5. Capillary Puncture
        1. It's helpful to warm the site for three minutes before puncturing a difficult patient in order to increase blood flow to the area and reduce the  need to squeeze. Excessive squeezing increases the possibility of contamination by tissue fluid and hemolysis.
        2. After cleansing the puncture site with an alcohol swab, allow the site to air dry and then puncture with a lancet. (Lancets must not puncture deeper than 2.4 mm deep.)   Wipe away the first drop of blood as it is contaminated with tissue fluid. There may be a one to two minute lag after puncturing before the blood starts flowing freely. Enhance blood flow by holding site downward and applying continuous  pressure to the surrounding tissue.
        3. Collect CBC's in capillary EDTA tubes. After recapping the container, it is important to shake down like shaking down a thermometer as this avoids micro-bubbles and clots. Collect routine chemistries in the serum-separator capillary tubes. Use the plain (not heparinized) capillary tubes if needed.

      After collection, sterile gauze is pressed against the site until the bleeding is stopped. It is best not to apply adhesive bandages over puncture sites in children less than two years of age.   Label the patient's specimen with a minimum of the draw date and time, collector's initials, patient's full first and last name and a second patient identifier i.e. date of birth or medical record number.   Because the quantity of blood removed and the avoidance of injury during specimen collection are important considerations, blood collections by skin puncture may be the technique of choice for obtaining small amounts of blood from some patients.   Skin puncture blood specimens are especially useful in pediatric patients and also certain adult cases of severely burned patients, obese patients, patients with tendency for thrombi, geriatric patients and those patients on chemotherapy when venipuncture is used for therapeutic purposes.

    Collection Sites:

    Sites for collecting skin-puncture blood may include the following:

    1. The lateral or posterolateral area of the heel for children less than one year of age.  Puncture on or outside of the lines is diagramed below and preferably laterally (along the outside) and sideways as opposed to up and down. Do not use previous puncture sites.
    2. The big toe.  (Children under age 1)
    3. The palmar surface of the last digit of the finger.
    4. The lateral surface of the last digit of the finger just proximal to the nail bed.
    5. The earlobe.  

    NOTE: No edema should be present in the puncture site as the accumulated fluid will contaminate the blood specimen.

    Fasting Specimen Collection

    Fasting, for the laboratory, means absolute restriction of solid and liquid food following the evening meal prior to the specimen collection.  Water should be taken in normal amounts to prevent concentration of the blood constituents. Lipoprotein Analysis and Lipid Panels require further dietary restrictions.  Nothing should be eaten 12 hours and no alcohol 24 hours prior to specimen collection.  The evening meal prior to the test should contain no fatty foods and should be completed before 1800. Contact the physician if there is any question regarding administration of medication during a fast.

    Urine Collection

    Random collections:  For routine analysis and microscopic evaluation, provide the patient with a clean container.  Midstream urine collection is recommended.

    1. Hold the container by the outside surface and begin urinating into the toilet.
    2. Place the container under the stream of urine after a good flow has started.
    3. Fill the container half full and void remainder of urine into toilet.
    4. Cap container, label, and refrigerate until delivery to Laboratory.

    24-Hour Urine Collection

    Containers for 24-hour urine specimens are to be obtained from the laboratory.  The laboratory will need to know which test is ordered so that proper preservative will be placed in the container.  Instruct the patient to use caution when handling the container as it may contain an acid preservative. When the 24-hour collection period is to begin, the patient should empty their bladder and discard that urine specimen.  All urine collected in the next 24 hours is to be placed in the container.  The container should be kept in a cool place during the collection period.  At exactly 24 hours after the start of the collection, the patient should empty their bladder and place that urine in the container.  Direction cards for collection of 24-hour urine specimens are available from the laboratory.  Additional urine containers may be obtained from the Laboratory, which is open 24 hours a day.

    NOTE:  Creatinine Clearance Test requires that a blood specimen is drawn within 48 hours of urine collection and sent to Mercy Laboratory for serum creatinine.


    Specimen Centrifugation

    Centrifuges vary in size, capacity, and speed capability.  Clinical centrifuge is the name given to tabletop models which can be used for urinalysis or serum separation.  These usually have a speed capacity of from 0-3000 rpm (revolutions per minute), and will hold tubes ranging from 5 to 50 ml sizes, depending on the adapters. Micro centrifuges, or microfuges, are also becoming widely used.  These will spin special microtubes (0.5-1.5 ml capacity) at high speeds, usually about 12,000 rpm. The speed of the centrifuge should be checked at periodic intervals with the use of a tachometer. 


    1. The blood specimen is obtained according to the "Collection of Blood Specimens" procedure.
    2. Balance the contents of the centrifuge before operating.  For example, if there is only one sample to be centrifuged, a tube identical in size and volume of solution contained must be placed in the rotor opposite the sample tube.  (The rotor is the part of the centrifuge which holds the tubes and rotates during the operation of the centrifuge.)  For every sample placed in the rotor, there must be a balancing sample placed directly opposite.
    3. Close the lid of the centrifuge.
    4. Centrifuge for 10 minutes, unless otherwise stated in Lab Test Index.
    5. Open the centrifuge lid after the rotor has stopped spinning and carefully remove the specimen.  


    Spin samples with the lids on to avoid creating aerosols. Do not open the centrifuge lid until the rotor has stopped spinning. Use only tubes that are specified as appropriate for that particular centrifuge. The sooner centrifugation is accomplished, the more reliable the result.  A time limit of 60 minutes is set by the NCCLS between venipuncture and completion of centrifugation.

    Procedure to Double Spin Specimens for Coagulation testing: 

             Double spin coagulation specimens to ensure that all platelets are removed:    

            1.  Centrifuge specimen.  Aliquot plasma (leaving some above the cells) to a plastic centrifuge tube.  

            2.  Centrifuge the aliquot tube.  Pipette plasma (leaving some above the bottom of the tube) to another plastic aliquot        tube.   3.  Store plasma as required for the test ordered.

  1. Labeling

    Mislabeled specimens

    If a specimen name and requisition name do not match in spelling, a phone call will be placed to your facility the following morning for clarification.  If information is omitted such as doctor name, birthdate, diagnosis, etc., a phone call will be made to your facility the following morning. For culture specimens, if source is omitted, or if test desired is omitted, our policy is to plate the specimen if at all possible, to promote growth of the organisms and turnaround time.  A phone call to your facility the following morning will be made to gather the needed information. If requisition name and specimen name are not the same, or, if specimens are unlabeled, specimens cannot be accepted.  They will be returned by courier to your facility.  Exceptions must be handled by the laboratory Medical Director.  Comments regarding labeling and corrections will be noted on final reports, for documentation purposes.

  2. Testing

    Testing Schedule

    For cost efficiency, certain tests are performed on specific shifts or days of the week.  The testing schedule is provided to you for your information and planning.  See Special Helps, Testing Schedule.

    Repeat Testing

    Any portion of a sample not used in testing is stored refrigerated for :

    • serum samples, 2-3 days.
    • whole blood samples, two days.
    • microbiology specimens, 24 hours.

    If a result is inconsistent with clinical findings, the physician may request repeat testing.  This will be performed at no charge.  If the original specimen is not available, a new sample may be submitted.  Please use a new requisition form and note that it is a repeat test per physician request. 

    Emergency and STAT Testing

    If medical staff demands change or your needs change, please feel free to contact us, we will make every attempt to accommodate your scheduling requirements.  A phone call ahead to Client Services will alert our staff to handle your specimen expediently.  Please mark the requisition form with STAT request, and indicate phone number/fax number and recipient of report when completed.

    Mercy Emergency Services

    Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa is a regional center, providing trauma care, cancer diagnosis and therapy, cardiac, dialysis, birth, and numerous other diagnostic and support services.  The campus is located near downtown Mason City.  A map is provided should you need to deliver or pick up emergency blood samples, blood supplies, and so on.  Parking for brief pickup and delivery of lab needs is permitted adjacent to the Emergency Center garage, to the east.  Entering the hospital from the Emergency Center's patient door, proceed through the waiting room to the hallway.  Take the elevator or stairs to the second floor.  The laboratory is to your left off the elevator or stairwell.

Reflex Testing

The laboratory automatically performs additional testing on the following assays when defined conditions are met.  Refer to the Special Helps section of the Lab Test Index for a complete listing of reflex testing.

Test Referrals

Mayo Medical Laboratories has been the primary referral laboratory of Mercy over 20 years.  We have worked closely to keep quality at a maximum, as well as value and cost effectiveness.  The MayoLink provides the Mason City laboratory on-line test requesting and results reporting.  Any tests not performed at Mercy are expediently forwarded to Mayo Medical Labs; and results are input into our laboratory system daily for printing and reporting to you.  Billing for referred tests appears on your Mercy Regional Laboratory monthly statement with no additional handling fees or costs to you. University Hygienic Laboratory in Des Moines performs Lead levels, maternal alphafetoprotein, and specialized microbiologic testing. Please submit the UHL Blood Lead patient information form with lead samples; and the UHL Alphafetoprotein-HCG-estriol examination form with these specimens. Other reference laboratories utilized include MedTox Laboratories in St. Paul, ViroMed Laboratories in Minneapolis, and others as special needs arise.  Final reports will specify when referral laboratories performed testing.

Lab Report Form

All report formats are designed to be clear, concise, and uncluttered.  They clearly distinguish abnormal values from normals by flagging abnormals.  Age and sex specific reference ranges are given when applicable.  Specimen characteristics or comments appear on reports when noted by testing personnel.Reports are available in preliminary and final form, or, in final form only.  You may specify which types you would like for your facility.  Reports are printed nightly and returned to you by courier. 

Faxing of Reports

FAX transmission has become our most popular method of results reporting.  It requires no expensive dedicated phone lines; and is extremely flexible.  Many clients use the faxed copies as their preliminary or doctor copy results. Through our computer modem, reports are routinely faxed to clients to speed turnaround time.  A routine time is established with each client for faxing of reports on a daily basis, if desired. In addition to routine faxing, stat and call-back results are faxed to the referring laboratory.  Clients may request results to be faxed to specialists, clinics, and hospitals by providing the recipient's name, phone number, and fax number, on the Mercy requisition form.

Courier Delivery of Reports

Client reports are printed nightly at Mercy Regional Laboratory.  Each courier then picks up reports for delivery during the next scheduled stop. Clients are encouraged to use these final reports on patient medical records and other official documents.

Specialized Testing and Reports

Cell Morphology Requests

The pathology staff will perform morphology examinations on blood and body fluids upon request.  Information required by the pathologists include CBC results, manual differential results, and abnormalities noted; also previous or known patient history is very helpful.

Blood Bank or Microbiology identification referrals

If your laboratory should require assistance in identifying positive immunohematology reactions or microbiologic isolates, these may be referred.  Please fill out and submit referral forms with specimen or plates.

Pap Smear Correlation; Follow-up of Abnormal Paps

Mercy Regional Laboratory employs credentialed cytotechnologists to perform gynecologic and non-gynecologic examinations, in-house.  The cytotechs consult daily with the pathologists on unusual findings.  An extensive quality assurance system is in place, in which:


  • all abnormal findings, plus at least 10% of normal pap smears, are reviewed by pathologists;
  • the attending physician is notified of high grade abnormal findings;
  • the patient's biopsy specimen is compared to the current pap smear as well as five years' previous pap smears;
  • surgical specimen is compared to pap smear and biopsy specimens;
  • if no biopsy or surgical specimens are received, a follow-up letter is sent to the attending physician restating cytology results and asking for follow-up information.


This attention to correlation and follow-up is key is assisting the practitioner in delivering the highest level of quality care to his or her patients.

Frozen Section Reports and Consultation

Pathology Associates of Mason City have contracted with your facility to provide frozen section coverage.  Details of this coverage are outlined in your hospital's contract with Pathology Associates.

Antibiotic Susceptibility Reports; Nursing Home Epidemiology Reports

Each year, all isolates on which sensitivity studies were performed, are statistically tabulated for sensitivity and resistance patterns to antibiotics.  This report is published and available to all clients, physicians and practitioners. A monthly epidemiology report is able to be generated for nursing home clients, which lists date of culture, isolates, sensitivities, ordering physician, and patient data.  Staff may use this information to track trends in antibiotic resistance.