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The team at Mater Pathology’s Microbiology Laboratory are making moves to see greater automation and advanced technology make a difference to the speed at which patients receive test results.
One of their first initiatives has seen the team update their blood culture incubator to the BacT/ALERT VIRTUO system, which is set to provide quicker turnaround time for detecting bacteraemia—the presence of bacteria in a patient’s bloodstream which causes life-threatening sepsis.
In diagnosing bacteraemia, a blood sample is obtained and put into plastic bottle containing a liquid culture medium specifically designed to optimise bacterial growth. Following this, the sample bottle is then put into the incubator.
Utilising their new automation system in this process will see the Microbiology lab reduce the time-to-detection of bacteraemia by approximately 2 hours.
With the addition of a conveyor belt and robotic arm for quicker sample bottle loading, photo scanning of labels for improved accuracy, and automated sample fill level checking, bringing automation into this traditionally manual process will see will great efficiencies in testing.
With the expected time saving, this exciting step toward more automation will undoubtedly have a positive impact on patients.
Lead Microbiologist, Dr Michael Thomas, said patients will be receiving their results sooner than ever.
“This new platform is an exciting step forward for the team as it marks one of the first in a long line of many technology improvements for the department,” Michael said.
“We know this new system will have a big effect on our team’s efficiency and save time for our scientific staff, which in turn positively affects doctors, nurses and anyone dealing with blood cultures across Mater.”
“The most important result, however, will be seen on a patient care level. The new system will have a direct impact on how quickly a septic patient will be on the right antibiotics for their infection—which could be potentially life-saving.”
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