Medical laboratory reports provide physicians with essential clues about the patient’s health, guiding them towards a more detailed investigation for proper diagnosis and appropriate management of an existing medical condition. With the increased demand for lab tests, laboratories worldwide are looking for ways to reduce costs, improve response times, and streamline operations. While a lot depends on procuring quality laboratory equipment at competitive rates, the following measures can go a long way in improving laboratory efficiency and workflow.
- Choose the right centrifuge – With the major role that the centrifuge plays in lab operations, you need to ensure that you have the most suitable device for your applications. Models vary from the large floor variety to the bench-top. Before purchasing the device, consider centrifugation requirements, available space, type of model, and cost. Recertified centrifuges could be an ideal option for labs with financial constraints.
- Prevent cell culture contamination – Cell culture contaminants can be chemical (impurities in media, sera, and water, endotoxins, plasticizers, and detergents) or biological (bacteria, molds, yeasts, viruses, mycoplasma), or even cross contamination by other cell lines. Sources of biological contamination include nonsterile supplies, media, and reagents, airborne particles laden with microorganisms, contaminated incubators, and dirty work surfaces. All laboratory personnel should be trained in the safe handling and disposal of potentially hazardous cultures and materials. Have measures in place to reduce accidents and keep non-porous surfaces clean with high quality disinfectant wipes.
- Explore automation possibilites – Automating certain procedures that are done manually can improve laboratory efficiency and also reduce errors in results and thus enhance patient safety. For instance, a fully automated clinical chemistry analyzer like the Olympus AU400 is specifically designed to help labs maximize productivity and minimize operating costs. Automated point-of-care urinalysis analyzers and coagulation systems are also available.
- Adhere to good laboratory practices – Laboratories must follow best practices to avoid the risk of hazards and promote lab safety. Recommended measures include training personnel in the proper use of diverse types of lab equipment, implementation of stringent quality control programs, safe waste disposal practices, and use of quality instruments.
- Improve pipetting performance – Choosing a contamination-free pipette can improve test accuracy. Calibrate the equipment at least once in every six months and use only the pipette tips specified by the manufacturer. Failing to pre-wet tips can cause inconsistency between samples. Also avoid holding the instrument when you are not using it.
- Calibrate and clean your balance – Frequent calibration of balances ensures precision and consistent weighing results. New balances must be calibrated before use and periodically recalibrated based on how they are used. It is important to clean your balance after each use as any dirt or material left under the weighing pan can affect result accuracy. While cleaning the balance, take care not to apply more pressure or weight to the pan than the balance can handle.