Dr. Chaitra K: Shaping the Future of Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Chaitra K,   Pathologist

Dr. Chaitra K


Positioned at the fulcrum of medicine and science, the components of pathology or laboratory medicine play a multi-faceted role in the early diagnosis of diseases, subsequently improving patients’ clinical care. With the recent pandemic redefining the standards of clinical research and treatment processes, the need for qualified pathologists has become even more crucial. In addition, equal emphasis has also been laid on enhancing research and empowering next gen professionals to thrive. Standing at the forefront of such a seismic shift is Dr. Chaitra K, an award-winning luminary specializing in laboratory medicine, an author, and the major force behind the department of pathology and lab medicine at DHEE Hospitals, an emerging multispecialty tertiary care hospital in Bangalore. With a perfect amalgam of passion, purpose, and proven expertise, Dr. Chaitra has been instrumental in elevating the standards of laboratory Medicine in India by enabling patients to receive quality treatment.

The Rootcause

“Regardless of the specialty, every medical expert inevitably relies on laboratory analysis. This detailed study of disease mechanisms and pathophysiology, where all pieces of information correlate to ultimately facilitate one’s precise diagnosis and treatment, always intrigued me”, recollects Dr. Chaitra. Having completed an MBBS, DCP, and MBA from esteemed institutions in Bangalore, Dr. Chaitra began her career as a tutor in the Department of Pathology at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, which gave her a diverse exposure across pathology disciplines, including hematology, clinical pathology, cytopathology, histopathology, and autopsy pathology. She further joined SRL Diagnostics at Fortis hospital, a leading diagnostic center, as a lab head, which equipped her with additional prowess in laboratory management. She further progressed in the company to become a technical lead, managing 20 labs across South India, before onboarding DHEE Hospitals.

DHEE Hospitals is the dream initiative of a group of highly skilled and committed doctors, who have set themselves out on a mission to make people healthier and happier. DHEE Hospitals is a 207-bed multi-super specialty hospital on Kanakapura Road in Bangalore. “DHEE Hospitals is one of its kind being patient-centric, doctor driven, and quality obsessed. We offer services across
many specialties; we have adult, pediatric, and neonatal ICUs - all backed by a 24/7 laboratory, radiology, and emergency services”, shares Dr. Chaitra K. DHEE is driven by medical veterans who collectively strive towards improving the lives of their patients.

As one key member of such a team, Dr. Chaitra has been proactive in establishing and leading a cutting-edge and comprehensive laboratory, adding value to DHEE and healthcare. Her impact on the realm of laboratory medicine can also be exemplified by her research-led achievements. For example, by analyzing the case studies of around 100 Dengue patients, their reduced platelet counts, serial monitoring data, and widespread concern, she has successfully developed interpretations for their platelet recovery timeline through histogram analysis, in turn aiding clinicians in making an informed decision about the need for platelet transfusions in such patients.

Prioritizing Quality

Dr. Chaitra firmly believes that delivering accurate results within an acceptable turnaround time is the key to forming the best laboratory, and accuracy hinges on the meticulous planning and selection of instruments based on their specificity, sensitivity, accuracy, and linearity. “As per my extensive experience in validating the instruments, I advocate for a rigorous in-house validation process in addition to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Our procedures are guided by statistical methods that adhere to ISO 15189:2022 and NABL112 standards”, adds Dr. Chaitra. She makes sure that the quality control procedures happen everyday and are complimented by the monthly performance of External Quality Assurance (EQA) data, while taking corrective measures in case of potential outliers.

According to Dr. Chaitra, achieving such a level of quality assurance and accurate laboratory reports requires quality-conscious laboratory technicians who are constantly trained to understand the significance of a successful execution of the entire process, right from sample collection to report generation. She has kept the training of quality-centric laboratory technicians as her core objective, and she has also been walking the talk, which is evident in one of her accomplishments, in which she has strategically steered many laboratories in her previous assignment to secure NABL accreditations, even with limited manpower.

Dr. Chaitra firmly believes that delivering accurate results within an acceptable turnaround time is the key to forming the best laboratory

Looking Ahead

Dr. Chaitra prioritizes staying ahead of the technology curve and stays informed by regularly reading indexed and medical journals, as well as participating in state and national conferences. She views AI and digital pathology as the new trends in the landscape, specifically in laboratory Medicine, with many embracing their onset. In fact, she has also contributed to developing an AI algorithm for pap smear reporting in liquid based cytology in association with Microsoft.

“In general, AI will streamline patient result reporting, reducing inadvertent human errors and inter-observer discrepancies”, opines Dr. Chaitra. With such visions in her mind, she intends to continue foregrounding the importance of pathologists in advancing patient care through her transformative ideas. “Although we may not interact with patients directly, every sample and specimen we handle in the laboratory is a patient to us. Every report undergoes thorough scrutiny before reaching patients and clinicians. Through effective communication, we can strike a chord with our clinicians to deliver optimal outcomes for our patients”, concludes Dr. Chaitra.