Lifespan introduces the first automated laboratory in the region. The state-of-the art lab increases patient safety and makes getting a diagnosis faster and easier for both doctors and their patients.
For most patients, having blood drawn or submitting a urine sample are fairly routine, but how each laboratory tests the samples and sends results can be dramatically different. Our laboratories are ahead of the curve. Almost the entire testing and results process is automated.
"The quality is better," says lab chemistry supervisor David Morris, PhD, who worked with Beckman Coulter and its associates to bring the lab to The Miriam Hospital a year ago. "It's all hands-off. There's no cross contamination and it's 100% accurate. The beauty is that it creates a modern lab."
Samples reach the automated laboratory from laboratories and physician offices around the area. Each sample is entered into the computer by a lab technician, or entered directly by the physician via Lifespan's LifeLinks system. The computer produces bar code stickers for each sample that identify the sample and the patient. The sample is then placed into a tray with other samples and the robotics take over. The automated system includes several robotic machines and a conveyer belt. The robotics can run 34,000 tests in about 3 days and are controlled by bursts of pneumatic air.
With amazing speed, robotics centrifuge each sample, divide the sample into additional tubes if necessary, perform the tests, generate results and file each sample away into a storage unit. If the physician orders additional tests on the same sample, the lab is able to automatically retrieve the sample and send it back for more tests.
At each stage in the process the bar code on each test tube and the tube's fluid level is automatically checked to make sure the sample is being handled correctly. If at any stage in the process the tube's bar code or fluid level doesn't match the computer records, the tube is automatically pulled off the system, and the computer notifies a lab technician that there has been an error.
The computerized system is so precise it can perform dozens of tests on a single patient's sample and locate any sample among hundreds. The accuracy and efficiency of the process increases patient safety, because lab technicians no longer prepare, test and retrieve samples by hand. This reduces the likelihood of human error, results in more accurate and reliable test results and a safer work environment for technologists.
In addition, the dramatically decreased turnaround time allows physicians to receive results and diagnose patients more quickly than ever before. This is especially advantageous in emergency cases; Lifespan's automated laboratory is connected with emergency rooms in Lifespan partner hospitals.
"Even our stat specimens get put in with everything else—it's just that efficient," says Susan Manzi, outreach lab business manager. "It takes only 35 to 40 minutes for a chemistry panel. Physicians can get same-day results, and it's easy for us to do that."
Manzi credits the success of the automated laboratory to all the hospital departments that make it possible. "We have such an incredible staff that it brings the whole thing together."
The automated testing system is used by all our laboratories, which are located throughout the region, by Lifespan partner hospitals, and by hundreds of local physicians. For more information or to find a lab near you, call 401-793-4242 or 1-800-980-4244.