College of American Pathologists
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  New tests, connectivity options for blood gas analyzers


CAP Today




August 2011
Feature Story

Brendan Dabkowski

Icy wind chills set teeth chattering. In a different hemisphere, bisque-thick humidity triggers breathlessness. We can’t control physiological responses to extreme weather. We can only dress for the elements and mind our vital signs.

The makers of in vitro blood gas analyzers, the focus of this month’s product guide, offer products that help customers mind patients’ vital signs. By monitoring blood gas and other critical-care parameters in the laboratory or at the point of care, or both, these instruments—most familiar, three new—improve overall patient care.

Radiometer America has focused on moving testing closer to the patient, which led the company to add two new systems to its point-of-care line, says Shane Hawes, vice president of marketing. The first is the ABL90 Flex point-of-care blood gas analyzer. Released late last year, the ABL90 Flex measures 17 blood gas parameters in 35 seconds from 65-µL blood samples. It has a color touchscreen, integrated bar-code reader for data entry, and built-in, automatic quality control for accuracy and regulatory compliance. Its test menu includes blood gases, electrolytes, metabolites, and CO-oximetry. A bilirubin test is available on the analyzer in Canada.

The second new system is the ABL80 OSM, which the company released early this year. The ABL80 OSM is a standalone CO-oximeter based on Radiometer’s ABL80 Flex point-of-care platform. The ABL80 OSM provides the critical parameters for applications in cardiac catheterization laboratories and ICUs.

At Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, the emphasis is on developing reliable instruments that connect seamlessly to data-management systems, which allow operators to monitor and control analyzers remotely. The company’s newest offering is the RapidPoint 500 blood gas system, released in June. The new system builds on the technology that the RapidPoint 405 analyzer uses, making the RapidPoint 500 effective for point-of-care and laboratory testing, says Kevin Collins, the company’s senior director, point of care. The RapidPoint 500 connects with Siemens’ RapidComm data-management system, which monitors QC performance, tracks operator competency, and facilitates regulatory compliance. The cartridge-based blood gas system has an integrated bar-code scanner for positive patient and operator identification. Available on the RapidPoint 500 system are pH, blood gas, electrolytes, metabolites, total hemoglobin, and CO-oximetry critical-care parameters. A neonatal total bilirubin test is available on the analyzer outside the United States. The company plans to add lactate to its test menu and the functionality to measure pleural fluid pH levels.

Other enhancements at Siemens include the addition of real-time monitoring and remote-control operation of the RapidPoint 400/405 and RapidLab 1200 systems via RapidComm, Collins says. These enhancements apply to the new 500 system as well.

Appearing in the guide for the first time this year is Alere’s Epoc blood gas analysis system. “Clinicians prefer and need information at the bedside that guides patient care decisions, maximizes patient safety, and generates provider satisfaction,” says Bruce Lewis of the company’s Epoc marketing team, in response to a question about blood gas analyzer customer trends. Because the Epoc system is a wireless handheld device, he says, it transmits lab-quality results immediately, providing caregivers with the data they need at the point of care. The system consists of a host, which includes a touchscreen and modular bar-code scanner, and a reader, which runs a single-use self-calibrating Smart Card. The test cards require 92 µL of whole blood and cover blood gases, electrolytes, glucose, lactate, and more.

Abbott Point of Care received FDA clearance in March for its i-Stat 1 wireless handheld device, which enables caregivers to share critical test information electronically at the patient’s bedside, says marketing manager Kevin Ball. The wireless option is an enhanced feature of the company’s i-Stat 1 point-of-care testing system, which has been available since 1992 and tests blood gases, chemistries, electrolytes, and coagulation and cardiac markers. The company plans next year to focus on features that will help laboratories oversee and comply with quality control requirements and positively identify patients at the bedside, Ball says.

Finally, Instrumentation Laboratory continues to offer its Gem 3500 and Gem Premier 4000 systems. On the latter, the company added a point-of-care blood test last year for measuring total bilirubin in newborns, says group manager Bill Manchester. In development for the 4000 system are tests for BUN, creatinine, and measured tCO2, which Manchester says will enhance the analyzer’s utility in critical-care testing, particularly in emergency departments. To address 2011 POC operator competency assessment requirements, the company has improved its GemWeb Plus custom connectivity software system by adding advanced regulatory compliance features and automated operator certification tests.

CAP TODAY’s guide to in vitro blood gas analyzers includes instruments from the aforementioned companies and from ITC, Nova Biomedical, Opti Medical Systems, and Roche Diagnostics. Readers interested in a particular product should confirm it has the stated features and capabilities.

Brendan Dabkowski is CAP TODAY associate editor.

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