The Southern Trust’s microbiology lab has just installed the latest hi-tech equipment to help with identifying bacteria.
The new ‘Maldi-tof Mass Spectrometry’ system greatly speeds up the identification of bacteria to help diagnose infections like sepsis, meningitis, gangrene and pneumonia.
Samples that would have previously taken up to 72 hours to confirm a bacterial identification can now be analysed within 30 minutes – helping to ensure that effective antibiotic treatment can begin much sooner.
Elaine Porter, Lead Biomedical Scientist for the Trust explains: “Microbiology is traditionally quite a slow process as we need time for bacterial cultures to grow. However, thanks to this new technology we are now able to ensure patients get the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible. It is particularly useful for those areas where we treat the most vulnerable patients like high dependency, intensive care and the neonatal unit by providing clinicians with the information they need to make critical decisions in a more timely way.
“It is also very useful in minimising unnecessary antibiotic use as we aim to prevent the increase in multi-resistant strains of bacteria and can also help us in better managing patients with infectious diseases.”
Southern Trust Microbiology laboratory at Craigavon Area Hospital examine around 250,000 patient samples each year.
Ms Porter added: “Our team plays such a crucial role in helping to diagnose and treat patients in both hospital and the community. As science and technology are continually evolving, it is really important that we keep up to date with the latest developments so we greatly welcome this latest technology to ensure that all our patients get the best possible care as quickly as possible.”
Biomedical Scientists Lisa Quinn and Vincent Mawhinney have undergone extensive training in the Mass Spectrometry system and are currently rolling out training to their colleagues.