The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Post disclaimer: This post does NOT make me or my readers professional licensed medical providers (unless you actually are one).
Lab values, such as chemistries and hematology, are sometimes primary or secondary evidence in serious injury cases. Reviewing, summarizing, and yes, understanding and deciphering lab results in challenging cases with weeks, months, or years of daily, weekly, or monthly lab tests is jolly good fun. Seriously. Well, if you’re real geeky, and just enjoy the heck out of lab and chemical abbreviations and numbers, and the kinds of medical conditions they may – or may not – indicate. ABG! eGFR! T. Bili! You should definitely enjoy this important but frankly unglamorous task if you want a career spending your day reading thousands of pages of medical records.
I love medical records, and I love apps. If I find an app that makes any aspect of my life easier, I welcome it with open arms, use it frequently, and sometimes go on the offensive to remind my colleagues I am actually using my phone for work purposes and not texting my BFF.
This started out as a post to explain that “stick figure” or “fish bone” diagram with numbers (see pic above) that you often see in handwritten medical records, especially hospital progress notes. Medical providers use this shorthand because it’s a fast way to record the lab results they are considering in their differential, and most of their fellow providers understand them. Because it’s shorthand, they don’t include the medical abbreviations in the diagram; the position of the number in the diagram is understood to represent the value. For example, the “fish head” portion of one of the commonly used chemistry diagrams is the glucose value. If your case requires summarizing the lab values recorded in these diagrams, and you are not a professional licensed medical provider that uses them every day, it can be a slow process to decode the numbers and summarize them in a way that your supervising attorneys find helpful, i.e. they do not have to stop and decode the diagrams themselves.
I keep a cheat sheet of medical “fish bone” diagrams in a drawer when I need a quick reference. But if you’ve read my blog for any length of time – or ever – you know how I feel about paper. Plus, not everything I encounter is on this particular reference, so I’m always on the lookout for faster and more comprehensive ones. I found one cool app that showed the lab diagrams, Lab Values: Medical Reference Tool, available on iTunes, and decided to invest $1.99 in this app to
geek out check it out and share with you.
I give this app a thumbs up for a quick reference for basic hematology and chemistries diagrams, as well as normal ranges for common lab values. Keep in mind that the lab result diagrams and normal ranges (to a slight degree) can very per individual or institution. Users that are not familiar with their medical or chemical abbreviations may not find this app helpful at all, and it does not have all diagrams or labs that I have ever encountered. But for the negligible price it’s a good return on the investment for your collection of medical apps. I’ll be checking out other lab value apps and weighing in soon.
Got a lab value app or resource that you love? I would love to hear from you.
This is not a paid review, and this blogger received no compensation, other than a few minutes of clean, geeky fun.