Department of Public Health
   
About Us

Public Health Laboratory is a specially licensed laboratory responsible for supporting all disease control and environmental health activities within PHP&S.

The PHL supports epidemiologic investigations and programs to prevent and control infectious disease and pollution of air, water, and food. The PHL provides laboratory services for county public health and personal health centers, 6 county hospitals, county environmental management and veterinary units, and private providers. Organizationally, PHL is divided into the following divisions: General Bacteriology, TB and Mycology, Parasitology, Serology, Virology, Molecular Diagnostics, Molecular Epidemiology, Environmental Microbiology, Support Services and Nondiagnostic General Health Assessment (NGHA) Office.

The NGHA office was established in 1992 as a result of Assembly Bill 185. This legislative bill gave the County the responsiblility for registration and enforcement activities for non-diagnostic health assessments involving the testing of human biological specimens for the purpose of referral to licensed sources of care. Oversight of this statute consists of program protocol and personnel review, permit issuance, site surveys, and consultations. All elements of an NGHA program must meet the requirements of the California Business and Professions Code Division 2, Chapter 3, Sections 1244-1244.4 prior to permit issuance.

The California Conference of Local Health Officers (CCLHO) proclaimed in its Platform Statement (1990) that Public Health Laboratory services should comprise seven basic functions, which include:

Assistance in Diagnosis, Control and Prevention of Those Illnesses of Public Health Concern
Providing clinical diagnostic services to the local health department categorical clinics (e.g., tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), Family Planning and/or primary care clinics) is currently the main role of local public health laboratories. In addition to aiding in diagnosis, detection of multi-drug resistant TB or B-lactmase producing gonorrhea strains, the local public health laboratory helps to prevent these particularly dangerous strains from becoming established in the community. Uncovering asymptomatic STD carriers in screening programs, or determining HIV prevalence in high- risk surveillance studies are also every-day examples of prevention. Effective control of communicable diseases is impossible without a laboratory.

Assistance in Epidemiological Investigations
Testing of both suspect food products and specimens from food handlers is an example of how the public health laboratory assists to determine the source of food-borne outbreak.

Monitoring and Control of Environmental Health and Safety
Routine monitoring via laboratory testing of potable and recreational waters, dairy products and certain food items is mandated by various federal agencies such as EPA and USDA to ensure the safety of these products to the public. Public health laboratories are usually certified to meet this need, whereas clinical laboratories are not.

Assistance in the Evaluation and Research of Health Programs in the Community
Detecting asymptomatic carriers of infectious diseases and serological surveillance for assessing local prevalence all are examples of public health laboratory-supported health evaluations of the community.

Provision of Laboratory Services for Specialized Health Department Programs
Lyme disease testing, serology for Coccidioides immitis, flow cytometry for monitoring CD4 cell levels in HIV infected patients are examples of how public health laboratories have responded to the particular needs of the local population served.

Provision of Information and Consultation to Private Laboratories and the Medical Community
In addition to providing direct reference laboratory testing such as syphilis confirmatory testing to blood banks, and TB identification and drug testing to hospital laboratories, public health laboratories provide training and consultation to the local health community.

Provision of Laboratory Services Not Otherwise Available
Providing laboratory services not available locally has long been the history and continues to be a dynamic role played by the public health laboratory. Testing for HIV is the most recent example wherein the local laboratories brought this service on board amid an environment of fear and anxiety of this yet incompletely understood disease. Rabies testing is yet another example of a specialized test so necessary in this State which reports over 500 rabid animals per year.


Laboratory Information

CLIENT SERVICES

Our staff is dedicated to providing you with responsive, personal service. Our hours of coverage are from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The Public Health Laboratory's client response staff is available to answer all questions relating to testing schedules, patient results, specimen collection and transport, collection supplies, and availability of tests. If you need detailed technical information, we will connect you with a member of the laboratory's technical staff.


QUALITY ASSURANCE

  • Quality Assurance implies the continual effort to improve the quality of service that the Public Health Laboratory provides to their clients either directly or indirectly. To accomplish this end, a quality assurance program must look at the whole picture and all of its component or interactive parts.

  • The goal of the Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory is to provide tests of high quality that will meet or exceed the continuing needs and expectations of the physicians and patients who depend on our service. Ultimately, the goal is to remain the qualified leader in the field of laboratory diagnostic testing.

  • The Quality Assurance Program coordinates the various activities in the Public Health Laboratory to ensure that the correct result is reported on the correct patient in a timely manner and to detect, control and prevent the occurrence of errors.

  • Quality control of all media, reagents and equipment is done before and/or concurrently with all test procedures. Standards and/or test controls ensure accuracy, reliability and reproducibility of test results.

  • The laboratory subscribes to state authorized proficiency testing programs as well as doing internal testing. The primary objective of this testing is to provide the laboratory with periodic indications of the quality and accuracy of test performance.


  • REPORTING OF TEST RESULTS

  • Specimens are processed upon receipt and results are returned to submitter when testing is completed. Turnaround times vary with the amount of time required to make the various test determinations.

  • Urgent reports are telephoned when the results are available. Other reports are faxed or mailed as submitter requests.

  • The laboratory will notify submitter by telephone of the following:


  • Test results on specimens from patients in sensitive occupations.
  • Positive results for cerebrospinal fluids, V. cholerae, B.pertussis, malaria, E. histolytica, and other selected tests of public health significance.
  • All results from rabies specimens. In addition, positive rabies results are reported to the Public Health Investigation Division immediately.

  • CONSULTATION

    Personnel in the testing sections are available to answer questions regarding test procedures and interpretation of results.



    Public Health Laboratory is a specially licensed laboratory responsible for supporting all disease control and environmental health activities within PHP&S. The PHL supports epidemiologic investigations and programs to prevent and control infectious disease and pollution of air, water, and food. The PHL provides laboratory services for county public health and personal health centers, 5 county hospitals, county environmental management and veterinary units, and private providers. Organizationally, PHL is divided into the following divisions: General Bacteriology, TB and Mycology, Parasitology, Serology, Virology, Molecular Diagnostics, Molecular Epidemiology, Environmental Microbiology, Support Services, and Nondiagnostic General Health Assessment (NGHA) Office.




     
    Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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