Handling laboratory tests at Rockford Memorial Hospital requires much less actual handling since the lab’s new Cobas 6000 analyzer series was installed. The fully automated system analyzes blood samples and other chemistry tests ordered by physicians and consolidates more than 95 percent of routine testing procedures that used to be done manually.
Handling laboratory tests at Rockford Memorial Hospital requires much less actual handling since the lab’s new Cobas 6000 analyzer series was installed.
The fully automated system analyzes blood samples and other chemistry tests ordered by physicians and consolidates more than 95 percent of routine testing procedures that used to be done manually. Once a blood sample is taken from a patient and bar coded, it does not have to be touched again by human hands.
Laboratory Manager Ron Gemme said the hospital decided to upgrade the laboratory because of a growing demand for tests by physicians and a decreasing supply of lab technicians.
Standardizing and improving turnaround time is important in the laboratory because of the role lab results plays in physicians’ decision making.
“As doctors get more and more sophisticated in the process of evaluating data your physical status, if you will, is evaluated more on data than on actual observation so we present more and more data to the physicians,” Gemme said. “Their requirement to absorb a lot more data on every one of their patients is growing every year so our actual test count has gone up over 300,000 tests in the last two years.
“We’re doing 1.5 million tests per year as opposed 1.2 million tests three years ago.”
Core Lab Supervisor Mamta Patel said a tray of vials can be placed at one end of the system and the machine will separate each blood sample into its components for testing. It then reads each vial’s bar code to know which of the 130 tests it can perform is required.
Patel said the system also makes the lab safer because it eliminates the need for a medical technologist to manually take the cap off the vial.
“We used to drop specimens into a centrifuge and spin that blood to separate the parts of it,” Gemme said. “Then, we would have to pour it off into different tubes. This whole thing does all that and, at the end of the process, it takes each tube and archives it to a rack so that if we have to reorder tests it can find that tube for us. Before, we used to have to do all that manually.”
He said the upgrade won’t cost medical technologists their jobs because “we graduate 6,000 techs less in this country than we need to replace the work force every year, so in order to stay up with the times and produce more tests with less people, we needed to go to automation.”
Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.