Latest equipment will speed up vital diagnoses

Elaine Porter, lead biomedical scientist, and biomedical scientist Lisa Quinn.
Elaine Porter, lead biomedical scientist, and biomedical scientist Lisa Quinn.

Equipment has been installed in Craigavon Area Hospital which will greatly speed up the diagnosis of infections such as sepsis, meningitis, gangrene and pneumonia.

Samples that would have previously taken up to 72 hours to identify can now be analysed within 30 minutes – helping to ensure that effective antibiotic treatment can begin much sooner.

The new ‘Maldi-tof Mass Spectrometry’ system works by analysing and identifying bacteria.

The lab examines around 250,000 patient samples each year.

Elaine Porter, lead biomedical scientist for the trust, said, “Microbiology is traditionally quite a slow process as we need time for bacterial cultures to grow. However, thanks to this new technology we are now able to ensure patients get the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

“It is particularly useful for those areas where we treat the most vulnerable patients like high dependency, intensive care and the neonatal unit by providing clinicians with the information they need to make critical decisions in a more timely way.

“It is also very useful in minimising unnecessary antibiotic use as we aim to prevent the increase in multi-resistant strains of bacteria and can also help us in better managing patients with infectious diseases.”

She added, “Our team plays such a crucial role in helping to diagnose and treat patients in both hospital and the community. As science and technology are continually evolving, it is really important that we keep up to date with the latest developments so we greatly welcome this latest technology to ensure that all our patients get the best possible care as quickly as possible.”