Faster testing for ED patients

Young Hospital has introduced a new point of care testing program that will give emergency department (ED) patients faster access to pathology results and improve overall care. 

faster: Registered nurse Vicky Coddington recently trained to use the new equipment at Young Hospital ED.

faster: Registered nurse Vicky Coddington recently trained to use the new equipment at Young Hospital ED.

It will mean patients may be able to get results for tests almost immediately that previously would have had to be completed off-site.

NSW Health Pathology is leading the statewide effort to introduce the managed point-of- care testing (PoCT) scheme in public hospital emergency departments that don’t have access to 24-hour pathology laboratories on-site. 

The aim is to provide ED teams, particularly in regional and rural areas, with access to on-the-spot results for certain types of pathology tests so they can deliver more timely care for patients. 

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District is the latest to adopt the program and is working with Pathology West (one of five NSW Health Pathology Networks) to introduce 43 devices across 27 emergency departments by the end of April 2014. 

Young Hospital has immediately introduced one new device to support patient care.

The hand-held PoCT devices provide on-site analysis for blood gases, lactate, haemoglobin, troponin, chemistries and electrolytes and INR/PT – some of the most common pathology tests emergency department teams rely on. 

Young Health Service manager Joanne Garlick said, until recently, Young Hospital had to send pathology samples off-site for analysis. 

“By having reliable point of care devices within the ED, we can get faster results for certain pathology tests, which means we can make quicker clinical decisions and improve time to treatment,” Ms Garlick said. 

“We can also save travel time for some patients, and that’s something they really appreciate.” 

Dr Michael Whiley, Acting Director for Pathology West (the NSW Health Pathology network that services the Murrumbidgee LHD) said point-of-care testing contributes to better health care by significantly reducing turnaround time for some types of pathology tests. 

“Point-of-care testing will never replace the full-fledged pathology laboratory which will continue to perform more detailed analysis and more technically advanced tests,” he said. 

“However, technology has advanced to a stage that we can now bring some parts of the pathology laboratory to the patient.” 

Dr Whiley said clinical teams will be able to have confidence in the PoCT results, as the hand-held devices will be managed to the same quality systems as traditional laboratory instruments.