Handling addon tubes

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There are a few ways of dealing with pulled add-on tubes in tube.tracker. At the heart of your decision is really the trade-off between operational efficiency and situational awareness. Below are some options in order of increasing complexity:

Status quo

  • Description: add-on tubes are taken from storage without updating tube.tracker. When finished, tubes can be returned to their original location.
  • Pros: No additional ‘work’ required in tube.tracker.
  • Cons: tube.tracker database inaccurately reflects specimen’s status and history
  • Applications: Small labs with small numbers of people handling specimens with good communications

Physical/mechanical placeholders

  • Description: when removing an add-on specimen, a physical marker of some sort is placed in the specimen’s rack position, indicating that the specimen has been temporarily removed
  • Pros: This is a fairly simple and elegant process that requires no additional work in tube.tracker
  • Cons: Workers must manage and handle placeholders. System relies on techs accurately implementing the system and returning specimens back to their previous positions. Specimen’s history does not reflect these transactions.
  • Applications: Medium sized labs with accountable and communicative staff.

Delete/re-add addons

  • Description: add-on tubes are deleted from tube.tracker individually as they are pulled for re-testing. Upon completing of use, the specimen is added back to storage with newer post-analytical specimens.
  • Pros: A fairly efficient way to keep an accurate electronic inventory of specimens.
  • Cons: When the specimen is ‘re-added’ in a new rack, the history of its previous life in storage is treated as a separate specimen. This could be problematic with some types of testing such as chain-of-custody toxicology.
  • Applications: Large, production laboratories with high throughput

Track every movement of the specimen

  • Description: Add-on tubes are transferred into temporary holding racks that represent the person or department performing the add-on. Upon completion of testing, the specimen is then transferred to a new rack or its original location.
  • Pros: This provides the most accurate and comprehensive view of a specimens status and history.
  • Cons: This is the most work-intensive process. The process may have difficulties getting buy in from the participants if the benefits from the enhanced tracking are not apparent to the users
  • Applications: Specialized, regulates, or multi-homed laboratories requiring detailed and comprehensive ‘birth to death’ specimen tracking