New lab technology helps patients when seconds matter

New lab technology helps patients when seconds matter

New laboratory technologies at Christiana Care offer faster, more accurate diagnostic results, leading to faster treatment and better medical outcomes for patients.

Rapid availability of test results supports prompt intervention. For a physician awaiting test results for a patient suffering a myocardial infarction, or a pregnant woman suffering a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, every second counts. Christiana Hospital’s central lab received a significant speed boost with the purchase of state-of-the-art, high-volume, automated diagnostic testing equipment. Combining equipment from competing manufacturers, the new system supports further integration of data at Christiana Care’s central lab, reducing the time required for many critical diagnostic tests.

“This extremely unusual integration of advanced equipment involved more than a year of intensive planning by two competing vendors working closely with the Christiana Care general lab staff and the IT Department,” said Cheryl Katz, vice president, Pathology and Laboratory Services. The collaboration required the custom-coding of complex electronic rules to route patient samples for testing and electronically transmit patient data from the equipment to PowerChart — Christiana Care’s electronic medical record (EMR) system. Only one other hospital in the world has achieved this feat with this mix of instrumentation, Katz said.

Detecting high-risk HPV genotypes

Pathology’s Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at Christiana Hospital implemented a faster, more sophisticated HPV qualitative test in March. This FDA approved instrument uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to detect 14 high-risk HPV genotypes and simultaneously differentiate HPV 16 and 18, the two types responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer. This new method has reduced test-result turnaround time from two to three weeks to only five days.

“Our laboratories employ leading-edge technologies to increase test accuracy, improve patient care and achieve clinical excellence,” said Molecular Diagnostics Lab Director Abraham Joseph, MA, MBA, CG, MB, DLM (ASCP). “The possibilities open to us now are broadly useful to develop other genetics tests that are valuable for our patients and help physicians to manage their care more effectively. This is the fastest growing realm of medical knowledge and diagnostic technology.”

Steady advances in microbiology

In Christiana Care’s microbiology lab, a new diagnostic instrument is speeding up testing times for infectious diseases such as C. difficile. Previously, it took up to 48 hours to obtain a result that can now be completed in four hours. Similar turnaround time improvements have been achieved with other assays transferred to the new molecular technology, including screening for Group B Streptococcus (GBS), influenza and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). By years’ end, Christiana Care will use this device to test for tuberculosis, yielding results within two hours instead of weeks.

“These robust new technologies not only offer enormous patient and public health benefits, they also help attract the highest quality medical laboratory scientists to work at Christiana Care, where they can provide the highest standard of care for our patients,” Katz said.