Emergency department waiting times could be slashed if they had access to onsite blood testing facilities, researchers say.
Auckland University Business School Professor Tava Olsen said a study of 55,000 American A&E patients showed those examined spent an average of 80 minutes less in hospitals where finger-prick testing was available.
Olsen worked with University of California San Francisco and UC Berkeley researchers, using common heart-patient testing, and said point-of-care testing decreased service time by an average of 80 minutes. Average waiting times were cut by as much as 16 per cent.
Less waiting time impacted on infection rates, readmission and mortality, she said. ‘‘The rate of revisits within the 72 hours after initial treatment also reduced.’’
Most New Zealand hospital tests are done by medical labs, but the quicker finger-prick samples, which cost more, can be analysed individually on site.
Olsen said the research showed savings in improved care and reduced stays justified point-of-care tests in emergency departments.
Rural clinics could benefit most from point-of-care, because of their lack of access to labs, and because country doctors were often required to make decisions on whether to send a patient to hospital, however, lab staff are unconvinced.
‘‘Are those extra minutes going to make a difference?’’ Canterbury Health Laboratories quality and business development manager Kevin Taylor said.
‘‘The last thing we want is for people to make interventions where they’re not needed.’’
Middlemore recently tested 50 patients using point-of-care but the results were inconclusive, emergency department clinical head Vanessa Thornton said.
Patients often needed several hours of monitoring, so quicker, simpler tests had little impact.
‘‘You need to look at a range of things, ECG and pain levels, you need to observe the patient, find out their age, whether their mother died of a heart attack at 21. It’s one cog in a range of cogs.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News
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