Implementation of a point-of-care satellite laboratory in the emergency department of an academic medical center. Impact on test turnaround time and patient emergency department length of stay

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2003 Apr;127(4):456-60. doi: 10.5858/2003-127-0456-IOAPSL.


Context: Emergency department (ED) overcrowding has reached crisis proportions in the United States. Many hospitals are seeking to identify process reengineering efforts to reduce crowding and ED patient length of stay (LOS).

Objectives: To investigate the impact of a point-of-care testing (POCT) satellite laboratory in the ED of a large academic medical center.

Setting: The ED of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.

Design and outcome measures: Evaluation of physician satisfaction, turnaround time (TAT), and ED LOS before and after implementation of a POCT laboratory. ED LOS was measured by patient chart audits. TAT was assessed by manual and computer audits. Clinician satisfaction surveys measured satisfaction with test TAT and test accuracy.

Results: Blood glucose, urine human chorionic gonadotropin, urine dipstick, creatine kinase-MB, and troponin tests were performed in the ED POCT laboratory. Test TAT declined an average of 87% after the institution of POCT. The ED LOS decreased for patients who received pregnancy testing, urine dipstick, and cardiac markers. Although these differences were not significant for individual tests, when the tests were combined, the decreased LOS was, on average, 41.3 minutes (P =.006). Clinician satisfaction surveys documented equivalent satisfaction with test accuracy between the central laboratory and the POCT laboratory. These surveys also documented dissatisfaction with central laboratory TAT and increased satisfaction with TAT of the POCT program (P <.001).

Conclusions: The POCT satellite laboratory decreased test TAT and decreased ED LOS. There was excellent satisfaction with test accuracy and TAT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / trends*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / trends
  • Emergency Medical Services / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laboratories, Hospital / trends*
  • Length of Stay / trends*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / trends
  • Time Factors