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Geisinger piloting innovative laboratory specimen processing instrument

DANVILLE, PA. Geisinger Medical Center's microbiology lab is the first in the U.S. to use a new automatic instrument that improves the quality and efficiency of specimen planting and streaking and eases a growing demand for lab services.

Geisinger's lab has helped test and customize Copan Diagnostics' Walk-Away Specimen Processor (WASP), which hit the market earlier this year.

The WASP's two main robotsdubbed Tarzan and Jane by the manufacturercan process up to180 plates per hour. (It takes several hours to process that many specimens manually.)

"WASP frees up our technicians for other tasks," said Geisinger Microbiology Lab Director Paul Bourbeau, PhD. "It's helping us meet the increasing need for our lab services."

Bourbeau said the WASP is a welcome addition to Geisinger's microbiology lab, which performs more than 400,000 tests a year for three Geisinger hospitals, 40 Geisinger community practice sites and non-affiliated hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and physicians' offices.

"In addition to our clinical work for Geisinger, we also conduct specialty microbiology testing for regional clients," Dr. Bourbeau explained. "So we have an incredible amount of specimens that are handled in our lab."

The WASP processes swabs, urine, fecal samples and other liquid-based specimens. These specimens are collected from patients for the detection of bacteria that are the causes of a variety of diseases such as urinary tract and wound infections and other infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

Relying on a product called the ESwab to directly transfer swabs into liquid solutions, the WASP can increase the amount of specimens that is automatically processed and can increase the accuracy of specimen processing.

"This is a breakthrough in microbiology a field that hasn't benefited from the types of automation that are common in other labs," Dr. Bourbeau said. "With this advanced technology, the WASP complements the outstanding work of our lab technicians."


Contact: Justin Walden
Geisinger Health System

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