Background: Purchase of automated systems in today's clinical laboratory needs justification based on demonstrable improvements in efficiency and a sound payback model. Few studies provide information on laboratory automation that focuses on the preanalytical portion of specimen processing. Methods: We recently evaluated an automated preanalytical processing unit (GENESIS FE500) at two academic health centers. This preanalytical unit processes blood specimens through automated specimen sorting, centrifugation, decapping, labeling, aliquoting, and placement of the processed specimen in the analytical rack. We quantified the output of the FE500 by processing >3000 barcode-labeled specimens according to a protocol designed to test all of the features of this automated specimen-processing unit. Results: Depending on the batch size, aliquot number requested, and percentage of tubes that required centrifugation, the mean system output performance varied between 93 and 502 total tubes/h. Throughput increased when the batch size expanded from 40 or 100 samples (mean = 211 total tubes processed/h) to batch sizes of 200 and 300 tubes (mean = 474 total tube processed/h). The GENESIS FE500 processed specimen tubes differing in size from 13 × 65 mm (width × height) to 16 × 100. At one site, the FE500 was operated by one person, compared with the three individuals required to perform the same tasks manually. Finally, the specimen-processing error rate determined at one of the institutions was significantly reduced. Conclusions: We conclude that the GENESIS FE500 effectively reduces the labor associated with specimen processing; decreases the number of laboratory errors that occur with specimen sorting, labeling, and aliquoting; and improves the integrity of specimen handling throughout the steps of specimen processing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical