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An Automated Approach to Blood Sample Handling

Automated laboratory testing eases burdens on hospital staff.

If you’ve ever worked in a lab, then you know how much time is lost to transporting samples. At a hospital that collects thousands of samples a day, analysts can literally walk miles and spend a significant portion of the workday on sample transportation. Coupled with the need for quick sample analysis to determine patients’ health, it makes sense that hospitals are beginning to automate blood sample testing.

Augusta Health, a hospital in Fishersville, Virginia, uses a laboratory automation line to process an average of 2,000 tubes of blood each day. The automated line is 66 feet in length, and currently includes a centrifuge and three analyzers.

Once a sample reaches the lab, an analyst walks the sample from the computer to the rack at the machine’s front. The sample is then scanned and placed in a puck, at which point it will be centrifuged (if needed) or moved along a track to the analyzer or refrigerator.

At one point, up to seven people in the lab might have handled a single tube before it made it to the fridge. With the automated line, a tube is handled by only one person.

The hospital is clear in its message that implementation of the line does not replace six people, but it allows the staff to put their time to better use by dealing with more complicated samples or unexpected results—tasks that use more of their advanced training.


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