Pneumatic Tube Delivery System for Blood Samples Reduces Turnaround Times Without Affecting Sample Quality
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STUDY OBJECTIVES: In this study, blood samples from ED patients that were delivered to the laboratory by a pneumatic tube delivery system and by a human courier were compared for timeliness and quality of results. METHODS: We studied all consecutive measurements of serum hemoglobin and potassium ordered from 2 emergency departments of a multisite tertiary care hospital system, one with a pneumatic tube system and the other using human couriers. Turnaround time was measured from the time that the test was ordered by the physician to the time the result was reported on the hospital information system. Hemolysis was measured with use of a standardized, validated method. ANALYSIS: Times were normalized by log transformation (ln [minutes + 1]), and a comparison of sites was conducted using analysis of variance. Hemolysis rates of the 2 delivery systems were compared by chi2. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in hemolysis rate between the 2 methods of delivery (7/121 [5.79%] with a pneumatic tube system and 20/200 [10%] with a human courier). When delivered with a pneumatic tube system, the mean turnaround times (with ranges) for both hemoglobin (33 minutes [4-230]) and potassium (64 [34-208]) were shorter than those delivered by a human courier (43 minutes [3-150] and 72 [28-213], respectively). CONCLUSION: The use of a pneumatic tube delivery system for transporting blood samples from the emergency department to the laboratory can significantly reduce the turnaround times of results without a reduction in sample quality.
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