Serving a region of 120,000 residents, Molde Hospital, located on the west coast of Norway, performs 1.3 million tests per year on a range of different analyzers in its busy biochemistry department. Lab Manager, Arne Eide, was keen to improve how samples were managed after analysis and reduce the time spent looking for samples in cold storage. He also wanted to reduce the potential for injuries sustained by lab staff from repetitive capping of the tubes about to be archived.
With a new PathFinder 350A Archiver on the job, this robotic workstation automatically caps and stores hundreds of specimen tubes per day, and never once complains.
The biochemistry lab of Molde Hospital conducts tests across several disciplines including hematology, immunohematology, blood bank, ANA/allergy testing and urinalysis. They process on average 1,200 sample tubes per weekday. With so many different disciplines, automating and simplifying the archiving process became very important to them.
The PathFinder 350A Archiver was installed in November 2013 to help the laboratory cope with managing the samples from the different analyzers in the laboratory.
The main analyzer in the lab is a Roche Cobas® 8000. As the tubes are completed on the Cobas 8000, the sample racks are transferred to a Cobas rack adapter and loaded directly onto the PF350A. Sample tubes from various other analyzers in the lab — some of which are capped and some uncapped — along with any other tubes leftover from the distribution process, are loaded on either the PF350A in the Cobas rack adapter or a PathFinder 50-well rack. All presented samples end up capped and stored in a uniquely identifiable PathFinder rack, with the specific location of each tube recorded in case it needs to be accessed again.
Less Aches and Pains
Each day, around 400 de-capped sample tubes need to be capped again before archiving. Thankfully, with the PathFinder 350A, manual capping of samples has all but disappeared, saving damage to the fingers, hands, shoulders and necks of the technicians who previously did this work.
Out of the Cold
After testing is completed, samples are kept for one week at a temperature of 4oC. At this temperature, it’s not much fun spending time in the cold store room looking for samples. Brr!
Fortunately, the PathFinder 350A now makes it much easier to find samples in storage, and so lab staff spend less time in there.
Keeping it Simple
In the cold room, the stored samples have allocated shelving space for each day of the week. Since each PathFinder storage rack has its own label, and the PF350A records the rack & well location for each tube, this makes it easy for a technician to find the archived tube that they are looking for.
Tubes from the storage racks that are one week old are thrown out each morning. These racks are then recycled, ready for storage of the coming day’s samples.
Very Easy to Use
Another positive aspect of employing the PathFinder 350A is it’s simple to learn and use for all personnel. In fact, Arne Eide claims, “we found the instrument very easy to use, in fact, easier than expected.”
The PF350A has proven an effective solution to streamlining the archiving process in the lab. All staff use the instrument and each discipline is responsible for archiving their own sample tubes. While everyone can now easily retrieve tubes from storage when required, this task is mainly done by office staff!
Overall, staff now “spend much less time on tube archiving and retrieval”, leading to improved cost efficiency. And with around 1.3 million tests being conducted at the Hospital per year, this means a significant saving in both time and staffing cost.
General Applications of PathFinder 350A
- Post-analytical capping and storing of completed tubes
- Catching any samples with outstanding tests
- Sorting and capping tubes for off-site testing
- Segregating tubes into long and short term storage