Huntsville Hospital debuts new lab technology to speed up results for patients

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - When you get blood work or other tests done at Huntsville Hospital, there's a cutting-edge lab full of staff and technology working to make sure you get your results back as soon as possible.

From the moment the sample of blood leaves your veins, it goes from one circulatory system to another.

“The tube system has miles and miles of conduit and tubes throughout the hospital," said Nichola Marcus, Director of the Huntsville Hospital Lab.

Instead of walking it by hand, the samples are put into containers like ones you might find at the bank, and they get there in a hurry!

“It takes approximately 126 seconds for a specimen to go from the ER to the laboratory," said Marcus.

The mechanical mastery doesn't end, once it gets to the lab.

“It expedites patient care by allowing the lab to analyze the specimens even faster," said Marcus.

Test samples are loaded into machines, and ideally, that's the last time it's handled by human hands. Based on bar codes, the vials are sorted into the proper machine for the proper test.

“It frees up our smart people to do the smart things that they’ve gone to school and trained to do that’s essential for us to be able to focus on up to 9,000 specimens a day," explained Marcus.

The "smart people" work behind the rows of machines, analyzing results where computers are no substitute for the human brain. Nichola Marcus says the whole system is efficient for the patient and staff.

“We don’t have to draw as much blood from a patient to get the same results. We don’t have to work with microscopes as much as we used to," she said.

Huntsville Hospital will also store samples for a few days, in case you need more tests without more pricks.

"They travel right on back through the line and they come to spend the rest of their life into this refrigerated robotic land," said Marcus.

An automated system only an engineering town like the Rocket City could possibly dream up.

“People from around the country come to look at our automation to see if it’s something they would like to purchase also," said Marcus.

Huntsville Hospital staff say the automated system speeds up diagnosis time and also protects staff from accidentally exposing themselves to dangerous diseases.