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Geisinger Piloting Innovative Lab Processing Instrument

Geisinger Medical Center’s microbiology lab in Danville Pa. is the first in the country to use Copan Diagnostics’ Walk-Away Specimen Processor (WASP), which improves the efficiency and accuracy of laboratory specimen processing The WASP eases the demand for lab services by processing specimens automatically.

Newswise — Geisinger Medical Center’s microbiology lab is the first in the U.S. to use a new automatic instrument that improves the quality and efficiency of specimen planting and streaking and eases a growing demand for lab services.

Geisinger’s lab has helped test and customize Copan Diagnostics’ Walk-Away Specimen Processor (WASP), which hit the market earlier this year.

The WASP’s two main robots—dubbed Tarzan and Jane by the manufacturer—can process up to180 plates per hour. (It takes several hours to process that many specimens manually.)

“WASP frees up our technicians for other tasks,” said Geisinger Microbiology Lab Director Paul Bourbeau, PhD. “It’s helping us meet the increasing need for our lab services.”

Bourbeau said the WASP is a welcome addition to Geisinger’s microbiology lab, which performs more than 400,000 tests a year for three Geisinger hospitals, 40 Geisinger community practice sites and non-affiliated hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and physicians’ offices.

“In addition to our clinical work for Geisinger, we also conduct specialty microbiology testing for regional clients,” Dr. Bourbeau explained. “So we have an incredible amount of specimens that are handled in our lab.”

The WASP processes swabs, urine, fecal samples and other liquid-based specimens. These specimens are collected from patients for the detection of bacteria that are the causes of a variety of diseases such as urinary tract and wound infections and other infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

Relying on a product called the ESwab to directly transfer swabs into liquid solutions, the WASP can increase the amount of specimens that is automatically processed and can increase the accuracy of specimen processing.

“This is a breakthrough in microbiology – a field that hasn’t benefited from the types of automation that are common in other labs,” Dr. Bourbeau said. “With this advanced technology, the WASP complements the outstanding work of our lab technicians.”

PHOTO AVAILABLE: Download a high-resolution digital photo of the WASP at

About Geisinger Health System
Founded in 1915, Geisinger Health System (Danville, PA) is one of the nation’s largest integrated health services organizations. Serving more than two million residents throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania, the physician-led organization is at the forefront of the country's rapidly emerging electronic health records movement. Geisinger is comprised of two medical center campuses, three hospitals, a 720-member group practice, a not-for-profit health insurance company and the Henry Hood Center for Health Research—dedicated to creating innovative new models for patient care, satisfaction and clinical outcomes.

Justin Walden | Newswise Science News
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