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Atrium Medical Center Becomes Second Hospital in the Nation to Use Innovative New Lab Technology

Middletown, Ohio, April 18, 2008 –Atrium Medical Center’s laboratory recently became only the second hospital in the nation to have an innovative, automated chemistry laboratory system called the StreamLAB Analytical Workcell with integrated Vista analyzers.

This new, top-of-the-line technology from Siemens is used to perform critical lab tests needed for the accurate diagnosis of many illnesses, from the common to the complex. It is used for inpatient, outpatient and emergency/trauma lab testing, as well as for chemistry testing performed at Atrium on specimens drawn at physicians’ offices.

“This is very exciting news for our medical center, its patients and physicians,” said Jan Schuster, administrative director of the Atrium laboratory.  “This technology gives us a more consistent and often faster turnaround time for routine and emergency blood and urine chemistry tests.”

“The fact that this configuration of next-generation technology is only the second to be installed in the U.S. underscores Atrium’s commitment to bring the latest and best medical advances to our service area.  This in turn helps us deliver better care to patients,” said Douglas W. McNeill, Atrium president and CEO.  “We’re pleased to employ it on our patients’ behalf.”

Using a fully automated process, Atrium lab staff order the tests needed in the laboratory information system and then load the specimen tubes into the StreamLAB.  StreamLAB reads the barcode labels, sorts, spins and uncaps the tubes.  It then sends the tubes to the proper analyzer for testing, recaps the tubes and holds the samples for temporary storage.

 “By scanning the barcode, the computer recognizes which tests are ordered—cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, heart enzymes, liver enzymes, drugs of abuse, thyroid testing, and so on,” said Schuster.  The longest test takes about ten minutes to run on the analyzer.

Using a computer touch-screen, a single operator guides the process without ever having to handle an open sample.  “Before, lab techs had to handle the specimen tube several times, sometimes having to manually safely transfer it into a different container for testing,” Schuster explained.  Time was also lost reading and rereading labels, as well as double-checking the tests ordered. 

“A great advantage of StreamLAB is that it creates a safer work environment for our personnel.  The system also benefits patients by reducing the potential for human error,” she explained.

Once the test results have been checked and approved by a lab technician, they are immediately placed in the laboratory information system, where they are instantly available to the inpatient unit, Emergency Trauma Center, physician’s office—or even on the physician’s handheld PDA.

With an eye toward the future, Atrium has acquired not one, but two Vista analyzers.  “This year our lab will perform approximately one million lab tests,” said Schuster.  “By purchasing two analyzers, we’ve almost doubled our capacity to grow.”  Atrium will operate both systems simultaneously, so that when one system gets busy, StreamLAB can send urgent (or “STAT”) specimens around the loop and into the second system, thus improving turnaround time.

“Our lab continues to strive for better patient safety and for a more consistent turnaround time for those who depend on what we do,” said Schuster.  “We’re excited to share this new technology with our hospital and community.”

National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is April 20-26.