Specimen Processing Workstations

Each specimen processor uses the ESP Accessioning Module at one of 120 workstations, equipped with 2-D bar-code reader, high speed thermal bar-code label printer, and a integrated camera. Each workstation is alongside a section of the Automated Track System. A complete inventory of received shipments is captured and stored in the ESP application. Afterwards, specimens are processed and labels produced. The ESP application prints labels based on the actual specimens received, not ideal or desired specimen types. The application also accounts for the optimal use of each specimen using rules that consider specimen stability, TAT, and overall excellent patient care.

Processing staff place all specimens with a "TRK" on the label (indicating the tube is to be transported on the Automated Transport System) on the track system. However, some specimens are submitted in larger cups, bags, or other containers that cannot be transported on the track system. In addition, some tubes may be too small (pediatric tubes) or too large. The automated track system accomodates tubes ranging from 13x75 mm to 16x100 mm in size. Many specimens submitted for critical frozen testing are manually transported to the testing laboratory after being sorted in the automated Sort-To-Light system to ensure optimal specimen stabilities. However, some critical frozen tests are performed frequently and can be safely transported on the Automated Transport System.

Each Specimen Processing workstation is equipped with colored coordinated styrofoam containers that match ARUP's colored specimen bags. These matching colors indicate proper bags and bins for frozen, refrigerated, or room temperature bags and specimens. Frozen bins contain dry ice and refrigerated bins contain refrigerated gel packs to properly maintain specimen temperatures. The Specimen Processing department designed and implemented a unique dry-ice bin configuration that utilizes dry-ice with a corrugated material. This configuration added marked improvement in quality over regular dry-ice usage.

ARUP’s current workstations, are durable metal units with modular components enabling ARUP to use customized variations for other functions besides Specimen Processing. Computer monitors are mounted on swivels at eye level, which reduces eye and back strain. Adjustable chairs and footrests add to employee comfort. Various supplies such as ARUP's standardized transfer tubes, caps, disposable gloves and standardized transport carriers (STCs) are within easy reach, as are the bar-code readers and label printers. The end result is a workstation that adheres to LEAN principles and greatly increases the efficiency of processing staff.

Each workstation has a slight (1/4 inch) beveled lip to prevent specimens from rolling off the work surface. All trash containers have covers with narrow slits to prevent tubes from accidentally falling in the trash. The combination of modified desktops with lips and trash bin covers nearly eliminate the risk of broken and lost specimens.