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Meeting increased demand for vitamin D testing

Healthcare News | 2012-07-30

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Barbara Bandsuh, MT (ASCP), Supervisor, Core Laboratory

Increasing awareness of the biological and clinical importance of vitamin D over the past five years has led to a huge increase in demand for vitamin D testing. This presents a major ongoing challenge for laboratory supervisor Barbara Bandsuh and her staff at the core laboratory located in the MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The need to meet the high volume of requests from physicians within the community health system served by the laboratory meant that Bandsuh is continuously looking to upgrade the vitamin D testing service without adding to staffing or incurring additional costs.

Although an automated enzyme immunoassay system was introduced in 2007 when testing was first brought in-house at the MetroHealth core laboratory, the vitamin D testing service frequently became backlogged and Bandsuh and her colleagues needed an assay with a faster turnaround time. An ADVIA Centaur® XP Immunoassay System was already in place in the core laboratory, so the laboratory was able to add the ADVIA Centaur® Vitamin D Total assay without any additional hires or extensive training. Staff began using the new assay in December 2011, only months after it was cleared for use in the United States. It is a one-pass competitive immunoassay that uses proprietary monoclonal antibodies for high-throughput quantitative determination of total 25(OH) vitamin D. The fact that the assay is traceable to liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), regarded as the gold standard in 25(OH) vitamin D testing, was key in the decision to bring it into the laboratory, Bandsuh said.

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Improved accuracy and turnaround

Since the introduction of the new assay, now that batch assays have been replaced with a continuous real-time procedure, the rate of vitamin D testing at the laboratory has increased by about eight percent. Costs have been reduced and revenues for billable tests have increased. As a result of improved efficiency, physicians can receive the results of the tests within six to eight hours of running the sample, rather than waiting two to three weeks for results as they did before. Accuracy has also improved; a major advantage of the ADVIA Centaur Vitamin D Total assay is the lack of variability compared with the previous assay. “We calibrate once a week, run control once a day, and the control stays very consistent,” Bandsuh confirmed. Whereas only about 10 percent of the laboratory staff had received training to achieve the high level of expertise necessary to run the old assay, now all the staff at the laboratory can run the ADVIA Centaur Vitamin D Total assay. “We all much prefer using the Centaur assay,” she says.

Key Benefits

  • Turnaround time for vitamin D testing is reduced
  • More tests can be run
  • Physicians receive results faster, allowing earlier planning for patient care
  • Revenues are increased with additional billable testing
  • Little training is required to run the assay
  • No additional staffing or training needed when the ADVIA Centaur XP Immunoassay System is already in place

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