News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Wearable Tattoo Can Monitor Blood Alcohol Levels with Diagnostic Technologies Familiar to Clinical Laboratory Scientists

The minute electronic device accurately determines alcohol blood levels by sampling the wearer’s sweat

During a night out on the town, what better way for individuals to monitor their consumption of alcohol and blood alcohol levels than by wearing a tattoo that can monitor blood alcohol levels? That’s the vision of researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

This temporary tattoo would be capable of helping an individual determine, “Am I drunk or just slightly buzzed. Am I becoming a public nuisance? Am I able to drive right now?” An innovative, cutting-edge device is being designed to help consumers definitively answer those questions.

Clinical chemists, medical laboratory scientists, and pathologists will be interested in the diagnostic technologies used to accomplish this testing. The device is basically a malleable, temporary tattoo that adheres to the skin and induces sweat. It is equipped with a flexible electronic circuit board and a hydrogel patch that contains pilocarpine, a sweat-inducing drug. The electrodes in the device collect a sample to determine blood alcohol content. That data is then wirelessly transmitted to a mobile device, such as a laptop or a smartphone, and provides an accurate reading of whether or not a person is inebriated. (more…)

Singapore Nightclub Uses a Urinal-based Urine POCT Device to Screen Patrons’ Alcohol Levels and Discourage Drunks from Driving Themselves Home

Effort to do medical laboratory tests at point-of-care is not perfect, but the system did encourage 342 of the 573 drunks identified by the tests to take a ride home

In the world of point-of-care testing (POCT), this may be the most humorous attempt to perform medical laboratory testing in an unusual setting: the men’s toilet at a night club! As part of an anti-drunk driving campaign, a nightclub in Singapore has installed urine analyzers in urinals that automatically signal management when a patron is too drunk to drive.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will find this initiative to not only be humorous, but instructive as to how innovative thinkers will apply diagnostic technologies in unorthodox ways. As used in Singapore, this program pairs the diagnostic testing device with an RFID chip and wireless technology to provide a real-time analysis and alert whenever the alcohol level of a customer participating in this program exceeds the legal limit for safe driving.


German Researchers Create ’Smart Test Tube’ That Can Revolutionize Automated Clinical Pathology Laboratory Specimen Processing

Fully automated approach to medical laboratory testing emphasizes automated sample documentation

Pathologists and clinical laboratory administrators know that tracking individual tubes of patient specimens continues to be a huge challenge for medical laboratories. Now, researchers in Germany may be on the way to solving the problem with their invention of “smart” test tubes.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) in Saarland developed a test tube that interacts with a central control network, according to a press release. Their primary goal is to enable specimen data to be processed automatically, particularly with regard to documentation. (more…)

New Patient ID Systems Use RFID Technology

Move over bar codes! RFID (radio frequency identification) may be ready as a patient identification solution for hospitals and other healthcare settings. Advocates promote RFID as a way to improve patient safety without the problems common to manual or bar code patient ID systems.

Overseas, the U.S. Navy uses an RFID-based patient ID system, called “Smart Band”, to track the status and location of wounded soldiers, prisoners, refugees, and others arriving at the Navy’s Pensacola Fleet Hospital in Iraq. Here in the United States, 473-bed Jacobi Medical Center in New York City has begun using the Smart Band system in its two acute care departments. Smart Tag is manufactured by Precision Dynamics Corporation of San Fernando, California.

RFID uses electronic chips embedded on tags to transmit radio waves. Tags can be encrypted with any type of information. Tags attached to products, assets or medical records and or embedded in security cards and wristbands allow early adopters to track medical devices, drugs, and people, according to a report on RFID technology applications from the Health Industry Business Communications Council (HIBCC), an industry-sponsored nonprofit organization dedicated to developing standards to facilitate electronic data exchange among all facets of the healthcare industry.

The technology can also be used to encrypt wristbands with information critical to patient safety and for quality assurance purposes, encrypting medical supplies and drugs with information like lot numbers and expiration dates and test samples and other laboratory items with special instructions or critical data like the temperature for monitoring sensitive products like blood. It also could improve tracking of instruments for infection control, allowing RFID-enabled trays to be followed through sterilizing departments, and high-cost medical devices like defibrillators, pacemakers and prostheses.

Unlike conventional labeling technologies, such as barcodes, RFID tags have both read and write capabilities, can be read simultaneously rather one at a time, allow invisible and resistant marking for special applications like patient wristbands, require no line of sight to read them, and permit reading orientation directly through materials like cardboard boxes and cloth.

RFID technology, however, is viewed as an enhancement-rather than a replacement-for current labeling systems, as it has disadvantages. It is expensive because it is not yet plug-and-play. Reliability is an issue in large-scale implementations. Additionally, current RFID tags cannot withstand extreme heat without special housing and their reliability can be affected by humidity, metal surfaces and other environmental conditions. Additionally, there are interoperability issues because the technology uses different RFID standards. For example, no single reader exists that can read from the multiple frequencies used in different RFID technologies.

Dark Daily expects rapid advances in RFID technology. Phlebotomists and lab staff know that use of bar codes comes with its own set of headaches. Thus, as RFID performance improves and its cost to use declines, hospitals will have a motive to incorporate RFID solutions for patient identification. Clinical laboratories will be interested in using RFID solutions to track specimens. Such an application is already in use between the gastroenterology surgery suites and the histology laboratory at the Mayo Clinic.
– P. Kirk

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