Introduction: The impact of workflow changes and total laboratory automation (TLA) on microbiology culture processing time was evaluated in an academic-affiliated regional hospital.
Materials and Methods: A retrospective analysis of microbiological data in a research database was performed to compare turnaround time (TAT) for organism identification (ID) before and after implementation of TLA (2013 versus 2016, respectively). TAT was compared using the ?2 test for categorical variables and log-transformed t-test for continuous variables.
Results: A total of 9,351 predefined common and clinically important positive mono-bacterial culture results were included in the analysis. Shorter TAT (hours) in 2016 compared to 2013 (p<0.0001) for positive result pathogen ID were observed in specimen types including blood (51.2 vs. 70.6), urine (40.7 vs. 47.1), wound (39.6 vs. 60.2), respiratory (47.7 vs. 67), and all specimen types combined (43.3 vs. 56.8). Although shorter TATs were not observed from all specimen categories for negative result pathogen ID, TAT for all specimen types combined was shorter (p=0.001) in 2016 compared to 2013 (94 vs. 101).
Conclusions: Total laboratory automation and workflow changes—including process standardization—facilitate shorter organism ID TAT across specimen sources.
Laboratory automation, Microbiology, Clinical laboratory, Laboratory workflow, Turnaround time