Blessing Hospital welcomes new laboratory equipment

Posted: Apr. 19, 2013 7:18 pm Updated: May. 10, 2013 11:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The new laboratory automation system at Blessing Hospital increases speed and accuracy in preparing specimens for laboratory testing.

Michael Johnston, laboratory director for Blessing Hospital, said the new Modular Pre-Analytical system, manufactured by Roche Diagnostics, completes the multistep process needed to prepare a specimen for laboratory testing. The MPA machine, which went live this past month, eliminates the opportunity for error during the specimen preparation process. Johnston said this increases safety by reduces the risk of mislabeling a sample and producing incorrect results for the patient. The hospital funded the $750,000 machine from the Illinois Hospital Capital Investment Program through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"Safety was really their motivation and our motivation," Johnston said. "It adds so much more to patient safety."

The machine prepares the blood and urine samples for testing using an eight-step process. The MPA reads the barcode for identification, uncaps the specimen, divides the original specimen into smaller samples for testing, labels the smaller samples with barcodes, recaps all the specimens, routes the samples to the testing location and sorts the originals for storage. While Johnston said the laboratory hadn't struggled with accuracy, he believed anytime a human handled the tube, it created the possibility of mislabeling or misplacing the sample.

"Once we put it on the front end, it will never have to be touched or seen again until the physician sees it on the other end," Johnston said. "Any of those potential errors are almost zero right now."

David Lyod, administrative director of ancillary services, estimated Blessing Hospital handles at least one million tests per year. These test serve Blessing Hospital Patients as well as Blessing Physician Services Patients, other clinics, physicians and nursing homes throughout the region. Johnston said the machine reduces the load for those working in the lab, but no jobs were eliminated because of the new technology.

The MPA connects to two analyzers, which were installed earlier this year. Those analyzer units consolidated the work of seven analyzers into the dual system.

Maureen Kahn, Blessing Hospital president and CEO, said she believes this addition temporarily completes efficiency and safety upgrades to the lab. However, she said the Blessing Lab will continue to evolve as the hospital continues to learn about new, beneficial machinery.

"The (increased) safety to the lab, to me, is a great step," Kahn said.