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Automation of Blood Testing and Storing Increases Efficiency at Mercy Medical Center

Des Moines, Iowa-based Mercy Medical Center has recently deployed a completely automated system called ‘the line’ for testing and storing blood serum.

Once vial-containing blood sample is positioned in the automated system, it is opened, gyrated, tested, closed and stored. In total, the sample goes through 16 stations.

The automated system can perform over 70 different tests such as thyroid function, blood sugar and cholesterol without human interference. Its computerized storage and retrieval ability permits Mercy Medical Center to store samples and retest them later.

Mercy's automated system is a series of equipment and medical devices manufactured by Beckman Coulter of California. The medical center had deployed the system for $1 million in the last summer, and the system commenced operations in September 2010.

The only manual operation needed for the automated system is the placing of vials in cups connected to a unique conveyor belt and communicating the equipment, which tests need to be carried out. The automation process reduces the exposure of lab workers to infections that spread by blood, and the chances of blood sample contamination.

The details are stored in a bar code that can be read by a computer scanner every time the vial goes through various stations of the system.

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