Chemotherapy patients at Heartland Cancer Center know how important their complete blood count (CBC) results are, and now they can have those results more quickly.
The cancer center recently equipped its blood-draw station with a hematology analyzer, which provides CBC answers in a matter of minutes. If the results are not within the right parameters, chemo treatment must be delayed.
"We can now process CBC tests right here at the cancer center," said Director Jamie Hutchinson, R.N. "In the past, we drew blood here and transported the sample to the St. Rose lab for processing. Now it is all done in our draw station with this new analyzer."
Heartland Cancer Center is part of the St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center family; the St. Rose lab continues to process all other tests for the center.
"Patients and doctors now can have CBC results in just a few minutes, instead of 30 minutes or longer," Hutchinson noted.
CBC tests provide information on the counts for white blood cells, platelets and hemoglobin.
"The results are then used to determine if a patient can have chemo right away," Hutchinson explained. "If the counts are not right, the patient will have to wait."
Depending on the circumstances, the patient may need an injection to increase white or red blood cell counts," Hutchinson said. "Or it could mean the patient needs a transfusion before treatment.
"Doctors can tell a lot from a CBC test," she added. "It is vital to chemotherapy, but results also can tell us how the patient is doing in general. For example, we can learn if they are more susceptible to infection and suggest ways to prevent it."
Carla Herl, St. Rose administrative lab director, said the new equipment is called a Beckman Coulter LH 750 hematology analyzer.
"This new equipment is a tremendous asset to the cancer center, as well as our lab," Herl commented. "We are always looking for ways to make life a little easier for our patients.
"We have a great relationship with the cancer center, and share resources and personnel when needed," she continued. "Most importantly, we share a dedication to providing the best quality health care to our patients."
The St. Rose lab is accredited by the College of American Pathologists.