Phoebe's new lab will improve patient safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe's new lab will improve patient safety

January 10, 2006

Albany- Mistakes and slow processing at medical labs can put patients in danger, but there's a new horizon at our area's biggest hospital. Today, Phoebe replaced its 12 year old laboratory system with McKesson's Horizon Lab.

For the last two years Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has worked to improve their computer system, today they took one step closer to making all medical files electronic.

"It's kind of the foundation for the electronic medical record, the next phase of the plan which is about a three to five year plan is to automate the clinical process at the bedside," said Patty Massey, Phoebe Chief Information Officer.

All phlebotomists are now armed with these handheld computers, sending them lab orders.

"It's a handheld wireless device that allows us to know exactly when a nursing station orders a lab test so we know when to go get it, where to go get it," said Debbi McCarthy, Phoebe Laboratory Director.

The new system is simply a patient safety issue, now there's no confusion on what tests have been ordered or which results go with which patient.

"When we get to the patients rooms we can positively identify them by using a scanner to read their bar coded ID band and the patient's labels for their blood tubes will print right there on the bedside," said McCarthy.

The new system includes this power processor that reads the labled samples, sends it to the proper lab area for processing and gets the test done. "Each patient transaction, and we do hundred in a day, will probably shave off five to ten minutes," said McCarthy.

Physicians will have their results sooner, with less errors, and more help.

"It will actually eliminate all hand writing errors and then it will provide clinical decision support in the background to help with drug to drug interactions, drug to food interactions, dosing errors and things like that," said Massey.

Since between 75 and 80 percent of medical decisions are based on laboratory results, Phoebe lab directors say the new system will allow doctors simply to treat patients more efficiently.

About a quarter of all labs across the country plan to install labs like Phoebe's this year alone.

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