Driving diagnostic integration beyond the walls of the laboratory

This summer a range of healthcare professionals, sepsis nurses and phlebotomists attended two ‘Saving Time Changes Lives’ events, organised by Becton Dickinson. Taking place during National Pathology Week, this year’s theme ‘Pathologists and Patients’ was highlighted with the topics at the event covering the importance of a quality diagnostic pathway with a risk-based approach to blood cultures, with a comprehensive approach to patient care. Here, Bruce Caldwell reviews the two events.

When it comes to improving patient safety and health outcomes through advancing the diagnosis of blood stream infections (BSI) and sepsis, a holistic view of the blood culture pathway is paramount to driving diagnostic integration beyond the walls of the laboratory. Recently, two stakeholder symposia, Saving Time Changes Lives, were facilitated by Becton Dickinson (BD) across the UK. These symposia brought together healthcare professionals with a wealth of experience within diagnostics to share new, and previously established, ideas of how to make this a reality in our current health system. 

Both Saving Time Changes Lives symposia kicked off with Andrew Haldenby, Director and Co-Founder at Aiming for Health Success (a consultancy programme working with NHS teams and business collaborators), showcasing the uncomfortable reality that patient outcomes are currently worse than they were pre-pandemic. He presented data demonstrating that between 2021-2023 the wait times for GP appointments, within A&E departments and for ambulances to reach patients with a suspected stroke or heart attack have been increasing.1,2 Additionally, the number of patients residing in hospitals who no longer meet the criteria peaked in December 2022, this is 30% higher than the daily average in December 2021.3 All these factors emphasise the fact that our health system is in gridlock and the pressures will continue to be exacerbated if no action is taken. Although shocking, these key learnings provide a fundamental opportunity for change. 

In line with these key findings, the symposia focused on the importance of improving the efficiencies and accuracies of the blood culture pathway to improve patient outcomes and reduce the length of stay in hospitals, ultimately relieving such pressures throughout the health system. However, in order for lasting change to be instilled, a holistic approach needs to be considered. 

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