Bellinger River Hospital has received improved point of care services to cut waiting times for patients in its emergency department.
Bellinger River Hospital has received improved point of care services to cut waiting times for patients in its emergency department.

Technology to improve emergency ward diagnosis

BELLINGER River District Hospital is the latest emergency department to receive a new point of care testing device and had its existing device upgraded, so that ED patients continue to receive faster access to pathology results and improve overall care.

NSW Health Pathology is leading the state-wide effort to introduce the managed point of care testing scheme in public hospital emergency departments that don't have access to 24-hour pathology laboratories on-site.

The aim is to provide ED teams, particularly in regional and rural areas, with access to on-the-spot results for certain types of pathology tests so they can deliver more timely care for patients.

The Mid North Coast Local Health District is the latest to adopt the program and has worked with Pathology North (one of five NSW Health Pathology Networks) to introduce six new devices and upgrade five existing device across five EDs.

Bellinger River District Hospital has received one new device and had an existing device upgraded to support patient care.

The hand-held PoCT devices provide on-site analysis for blood gases, lactate, haemoglobin, troponin, chemistries and electrolytes and INR/PT (blood coagulation tests) - some of the most common pathology tests emergency department teams rely on.

"By having reliable point of care devices within the ED, we can obtain results in a timely fashion for certain pathology tests, which means we can make informed clinical decisions and so improve time to treatment," Nurse Unit Manager Liz Blake said. 

Dr Stephen Braye, Director for Pathology North said point of care testing contributes to better health care by significantly reducing turnaround time for some types of pathology tests.

"Point of care testing has advanced to a stage that we can now bring some parts of the laboratory to the patient," Dr Braye said. 

"The technology complements the work of our traditional laboratories which continue to perform more detailed analysis and more technically advanced tests.

Dr Braye said clinical teams will be able to have confidence in the PoCT results as the hand-held devices will be managed to the same quality standards as other NSW Health Pathology laboratory instruments.



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