Rural centre deploys point-of-care lab
NEWBURY, Ont. – Four Counties
Health Services (FCHS) is the pilot site for the Thames Valley Hospital
Partnership (TVHP) point-of-care lab testing.
Four Counties Health Services is a primary care facility providing
emergency care, diagnostic services, and rehabilitation. Serving
approximately 23,000 residents, it is located in the village of Newbury,
at the intersection of Lambton, Kent, Middlesex and Elgin Counties. IT
is about 40 minutes west of London.
“Point-of-care is the gold standard for all critical areas requiring
immediate results,” says Thea Turpin, Lab Manager for Middlesex Hospital
Alliance’s Laboratories. “Other small hospitals are looking at this
system to improve critical care access to common lab tests and Four
Counties is the first – and the pilot site – for our regional
Point-of-care testing allows nurses or other healthcare professionals to
test blood samples immediately using a new portable device.
Administrative and medical staff from Middlesex Hospital Alliance saw
the system at work firsthand last year on a site visit to the Quinte
Health Care North Hastings site in Bancroft, Ont., where point-of-care
was recently implemented.
Instead of having a fully staffed lab on site, Bancroft’s point-of-care
equipment automates many common blood tests. ER nurses are trained to
take patient samples and operate the equipment. And, results are
available in an average of 10 minutes. Costs have been reduced and the
quality of patient care improved.
With 10 inpatient beds and 14,000 ER visits each year, the Bancroft site
is very similar to, and faces some of the same challenges, as FCHS.
At Four Counties, all emergency department blood work will be
point-of-care and urgent inpatient testing will also use the system.
“Anywhere that time is important, where immediate results are required
to assist urgent diagnosis, this system will be a benefit,” Turpin says.
Additionally, the system is comprehensive. Nurses will have new chips
imbedded in their ID badges, so that when they test a blood sample, they
will also scan their own badge and the patient’s ID bar code bracelet.
In this way, when the point-of-care device prints out blood test results
it indicates the patient information, such as doctor’s name and
patient’s age, the nurse who administered the test, and the results, all
on one report, Turpin explains.
This new standard is a state-of-the-art system and will have a positive
impact on patient care. “This system is a benefit to patient safety also
because the risk of error is decreased,” Turpin says. “When testing is
done immediately and at the point of care, there are fewer opportunities
for error, no waiting for lab results and follow-up phone calls. It is
The system is also cost effective. Small hospitals such as Four Counties
and Bancroft don’t require a full lab system for the small number of
routine tests that they do. This way, tests can be performed on site,
without carrying the costs of a full lab system.
Training staff for point-of-care testing took place during August and
the system is now being used at the Four Counties Health Services