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Lab Holds Time Speed Record for Test Completion

Posted on Friday, October 27th, 2017


Sharing the TAT Award: Laboratory technologists Dunhill Casipong and
Christa Kirby and laboratory director Kelvin McMillan enjoy an 
individual version of the quarterly "Turnaround Time" trophy from
Mercy System. The Mercy Health/Love County laboratory has won every
award for fastest testing laboratory among regional hospitals for the
past two years.

The Mercy Health/Love County laboratory is the reigning “Turnaround Time” champion among regional hospitals in the Mercy System.

“The award has been presented quarterly for two years. We have always been the leader,” said laboratory director Kelvin McMillan.

Turnaround time is the time it takes to get test results back to the ordering provider once the laboratory has received a specimen. “It is literally the number of minutes the laboratory is working on the test,” McMillan said.

The data is routinely collected by data mining software in the laboratory. The testing times for each Mercy laboratory are analyzed for quality assurance purposes.

Jason Padgham, regional laboratory supervisor, based in Oklahoma City, devised the turnaround time contest two years ago for the Mercy System region made up of the critical access rural hospitals plus the larger hospitals in Ardmore and Ada.

After returning from laboratory director meetings eight times in a row with the quality award, McMillan prepared individual “TAT” trophies for each technologist in the Mercy Health/Love County lab. They include Richard Acayan, Carla Brown, Dunhill Casipong, Gay Galano, and Christa Kirby.

“The credit belongs to the technologists performing the assays. Each has a dedication to providing accurate, timely results. It is the way we do our part for quality healthcare,” McMillan said.

Lending more prestige to the consistent recognition is that the contest is based exclusively on “stat” tests. These are lab tests and services that are needed immediately in order to manage medical emergencies.

“Emergency cases get our attention. We shift into high gear. A true emergency demands that we first determine the cause of an illness and then what to do about it. The lab is usually on the up-front diagnostic part of the emergency department visit. It is our responsibility to provide results which decode the signals from the body to assist in the determination of a disease process. The rapidity with which we can get results helps providers make corrections before a condition gets worse. Sometimes, seconds count. Even when the nurse is on the phone or the provider is standing beside you wanting to know the results, you must focus on the task of performing the assays,” McMillan said.

Within the Mercy System, each type of stat test has a target completion time. In the most recent quarter, the local laboratory attained 100% of the target times during the day and evening shifts, and 94% during the night shift.

The laboratory performs 125,000 tests per year for the emergency department, hospital, clinic, and nursing home. “We can’t move as many people through the clinic as we do without the quick work of the laboratory staff,” said clinic director Connie Barker. “Generally, within 10 to 15 minutes, test results have been transmitted from the laboratory to the computers of our clinic providers. The technologists are dedicated to all of our departments and producing the best results as quickly as possible.”

Some of the laboratory testing equipment has undergone recent upgrades. An Ortho Chemical Diagnostics workstation is now used in donor screening. The machine helps the laboratory workers make sure a patient receives blood that is safe, the right type, and the right unit.

A Stago XTA Satellite workstation is benefiting patients on blood-thinner medications. The machine tests blood samples for coagulation.

The laboratory also has acquired a new, larger refrigerator. Among other uses, there is plenty of room to store blood samples. “We keep drawn blood for up to one week. This lets us perform additional tests as needed without sticking the patient again,” McMillan said.