Implementing a Pneumatic Tube System for Transporting Blood Samples to Reduce Laboratory Turnaround Times in the Emergency Department
Introduction: Healthcare institutions are focusing on improving turnaround times to reduce patient complaints, improve quality in treatment, and shorten the length of stay (LOS). Despite these efforts, most hospitals still experience delays in TATs for critical departments such as ED and laboratories. The challenges facing emergency departments arise from inappropriate lab TATs leading to over 87% of patient complaints. The problems in achieving recommended TATs of 45 minutes for sample processing, testing, and reporting is attributed to ineffective sample transporting processes and systems. The pneumatic transport system (PTS) is an ideal and safe rapid transportation option for hospitals facing TAT problems. Aim and Purpose: This quality improvement project seeks to provide a framework and system to assist in reducing the turnaround times of laboratory results for ED patients from 65 minutes to 45 minutes. Literature Review: A Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) checklist was used to identify 34 relevant studies for literature review. The review established that most Saudi Arabian hospitals are using PTS to reduce TATs, shorten LOS, and improve quality of care. However, other studies indicate that PTS is associated with haemolysis of samples, which reduces the reliability of laboratory results. The studies recommend that hospitals should adopt PTS systems that guarantee reliable, safe, and efficient transfer of blood samples. Methods: The Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle will be used to assess the effectiveness of PTS in reducing TAT and make improvements to meet the required TATs. Planning includes creating the processes for implementing the improvement strategy while the Do phase will assess the staff knowledge on PTS effectiveness through collecting data from users. Studying includes analysing collected data to identify problem areas while the act stage will involve training staff on the appropriate use of PTS system. The cycle will be repeated until the required changes have been achieved.