We have been receiving a lot of questions and comments about the move to a point-of-care lab at TMH, including some misinformation about the impact this would have on patients and services at TMH. The following fact sheet is designed to help answer these questions.

Understanding the Point-of-Care Lab at QHC Trenton Memorial Hospital

Point-of-care (POC) testing refers to the movement of lab analysis closer to the patient bedside.Table top analyzers will replace costly large analyzers that are currently outside the ER area.

Nurses are currently drawing blood and taking the sample to the lab. With point of care testing, nurses will continue to draw the blood and put the sample in the POC machine in the ER. The results are available on the analyzer and are automatically sent to the patient's electronic health record. The labeling technique will also be simplified and will reduce nursing time and potential for error.

The turnaround times are much shorter through POC, leading to shorter ER wait times. POC testing reduces test turn-around-times from an average of 60 minutes to an average of 8 minutes. Some blood tests that can currently take up to two hours will now be done in 15 minutes or less.

For example, CBC is one of the most common types of lab tests in the ER. It currently takes between 30 and 60 minutes for results. The POC analyzer sends the results directly to the patient's electronic health record within 2 minutes.

Hospitals around Ontario are moving to POC testing because it reduces ER wait times and increases patient satisfaction. There have been point-of-care labs in Picton and Bancroft for years that function very well.

About 98% of lab tests in the TMH ER are available with POC technology. The 2% of ER tests that can't be done through point-of-care will be sent to Belleville for testing. The BGH lab is already processing some less common types of tests for TMH patients.

Moving to a point-of-care lab has no impact on patients receiving surgical services at TMH. Blood collection for type and cross will continue to be available at TMH and routine blood available for surgical and medical day procedures.

Emergency blood products will continue to be stocked at TMH, including emergency blood in the TMH ER.

There will continue to be lab staff seven days a week at TMH to support these laboratory services.

The savings associated with this change are significant, with a high level estimate of $420,000 plus savings in capital equipment replacement costs.

Impact to staff currently working in the TMH lab is an unfortunate outcome of the change. We have met with the union representing the lab staff and will continue working through the staff planning process with them to determine how we can minimize the impact on individual people as much as possible.

A meeting has been booked with physicians and staff for the week of April 1 to continue to answer questions and help finalize the implementation plans for the transition, including the education and supports that will be provided to staff.