Pathology the key to diagnosis | PHOTOS

One hundred per cent of of cancer diagnosis are done by pathology. 

And about 70 per cent of medical decisions rely on pathology. 

We may never meet the people working in laboratories behind the scenes but they are a critical part of our healthcare system.

There are 12 staff at the pathology unit at Bowral Hospital, including scientists, technical officers, collections and clerical staff, who work hard everyday to service patients from both the public and private hospital. 

Senior hospital scientist Peter Tomlinson said the pathology unit offered 24/7 blood testing so patients got the treatment they needed when they needed it.

“We can have a full blood count done in 20 minutes and a chemistry test done within 40 minutes,” he said. 

Bowral’s pathology unit tests between 80 and 150 patients per day, which is the equivalent of about 2000 individual tests. 

“We also complete about four per cent of the work in the South Western Sydney Local Health District,” Mr Tomlinson said. 

The refurbished pathology department at the Bowral and District Hospital was officially opened in 2002 and Mr Tomlinson said it was still fairly state-of-the-art. 

The laboratory has up-to-date equipment which is able to give quality service to the community.

Results are quality-controlled and are all stored electronically, which means doctors at other hospitals in the district can view the results wherever they may be.

Bowral’s pathology unit also offers new, rapid flu testing for at-risk hospital patients, with fast turn-around times that supports earlier treatment and earlier discharge. During the first three months of the new service, more than 300 patients were tested. 

The first Highlands pathology unit was opened in 1951. The first laboratory was set up by Dr Richard O'Brien in what is now known as Rose Cottage, using most of his own equipment and having one assistant.

Now, Bowral’s pathology is approaching 50,000 patients and one million tests per year.