Every Blood Sample Is A Life

Proprietary Probe Technology Helps Reduce Sample Cross-Contamination

We are often asked about the importance of our proprietary probe technologies that help to minimize cross-contamination from one test sample to the next. Our exclusive probe polishing process reduces ID roughness by a factor of 2 to 4 and improves wash characteristics enabling earlier and more accurate diagnostic testing of serious diseases.

Perhaps a short, memorable example serves best, especially when describing the importance of reducing sample cross-contamination that could potentially lead to an incorrect diagnosis.

Imagine an e-mail intended for your boss is sent to a customer instead. That’s not the desired outcome and is embarrassing to all involved. Hopefully, it is little more than an inconvenience. Similar to the content within the misaddressed e-mail, a patient’s details, their blood sample and their diagnostic blood test must be cleanly handled to achieve an accurate outcome. Thus, preventing diagnostic errors, whether human- or instrument-induced, now becomes a more urgent priority, especially when they could affect your test sample.

The bottom line: Every sample is a life. Treating each and every diagnostic blood sample in that way humanizes each test result. This also helps to better illustrate the importance of limiting cross-contamination through innovative and repeatable proprietary probe technology within diagnostic instruments to improve both sample test accuracy and deliver consistent test outcomes.

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Tubing Material Selection Can Affect Carryover … Big Time

Labs in the United States run seven to ten billion blood tests annually influencing more than 60% of clinical decision making. On any given day, that’s millions of blood samples running through millions of meters of tubing within today’s most technologically advanced diagnostic instruments. With that many chemistry panels being analyzed, there’s bound to be inaccuracies. The key here is to reduce inaccuracies to as close to zero as possible before a test panel is even run, by optimizing flow path management and through superior fluidic solutions. Carryover from one sample to the next is always a risk.

So, what is Carryover?

Carryover is defined as the remnant of a sample left over in the flow path that gets picked up in a subsequent sample. Although there are several system components which can affect carryover – the aspirate/dispense probe and unswept fluid volume readily come to mind – for now we will focus on tubing material selection.

When a fluid traversing the fluid path picks up some volume of a preceding fluid, it becomes diluted; it no longer has the same concentration. This can be problematic when multiple critical fluids travel through one fluid path.  Changes in concentration can lead to false readings and misdiagnosis.

Materials with low surface energy such as PTFE, FEP, PEEK, ETFE, and MFA are used for the flow path in an effort to reduce fluid carryover. If a fluid flowing through a piece of tubing has a higher surface energy than the tubing itself, it will usually stay bound to itself, and not bind to the inner-diameter surface of the tubing.  This reduces the likelihood of carryover, as the next fluid moving down the flow path may not encounter any of the previous fluid to pick up.

Newly marketed diagnostic instruments and their assays are becoming more and more sensitive. This greater sensitivity is likely to require more stringent control of carryover from one sample being tested to the next. Thus, the tubing choices made for today’s more sophisticated diagnostic analyzers are even more critical than in the past.

Forewarned is forearmed. So, understanding what’s involved with carryover at the onset of a design goes a long way to offering a design solution to help OEMs to solve this problem in today’s more sensitive, precise and faster diagnostic instruments.

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A Proud Gen X’er Asks: Are U.S. Millennials Really Impacting Manufacturing and Engineering?

Without a doubt, they are. Not only are millennials making impacts within manufacturing and engineering, they are also impacting healthcare, and IT and myriad other industries.

Although this shouldn’t really be news to any of us by now, this 80 million strong generational cohort is reshaping our society and by consequence, has impacted the American workplace in ways that we couldn’t have imagined even 10 years ago.

As a guy born in the 1960s (thankfully, my children are still young enough in age and aren’t yet calling me “old man”… yet), I’ve been interested in better understanding the experiences of engineering and manufacturing managers about how this group might be changing the workplace, what they really want from employers and how both may find mutual success.

In case you’ve forgotten, millennials can be broadly defined as follows:

  • born from 1980 to 2000
  • they spend $600 billion annually
  • put off big ticket purchases (such as cars, homes, etc.) until later in life
  • are totally digital

According to an opinion piece penned by Gallup’s CEO Jim Clifton in the May 11, 2016 blog, “Millennials: How They Live and Work”, if you can implement the right organizational changes in the workplace, you can truly make a difference at your company for the long term, regardless of business or vertical.

After reading the Gallup blog, I queried a couple of social media groups dedicated to engineering asking them to share some of their workplace interactions with their millennial colleagues. Although no one that wrote me back would agree to go on the record about their experiences with millennials at their company, I did learn a few things that I gladly share below.

  • Engagement — Keep millennials engaged and let them know where they stand at work and how they contribute to your department and company goals. Shoot straight with them and you’ll gain their respect. This is a good formula for working with any employee, but millennials especially expect this approach.
  • Mentoring — Although dependent on the resources available at your company, one way that your company may find success with this group of younger Americans is to offer a structured mentoring program. Truly, here’s a golden opportunity for senior employees to help better assimilate younger employees more quickly into a company’s culture helping make for a smoother, more successful transition.
  • Development — Millennials seem hungry for personal and professional development opportunities in the workplace, and they want to make a difference in the world. Report after report and survey after survey support the point that millennials wish to be part of something that has meaning for them at work.
  • Energy and Perspective – In turn for this investment of development and mentoring, Millennials will bring fresh eyes to the challenges and opportunities in your business. This is especially true for digital growth initiatives. And once engaged, they will jump in with enthusiasm that might cause you to question your own level of commitment.

Although we may not relish talking about it out loud — I certainly don’t — we are all getting older. And, we all have our preferences, values and biases shaped from a lifetime of experiences, failures and accomplishments that make up who we are as people. It is up to us to offer a welcoming approach to development and learning for our younger colleagues. Additionally, as the current “stewards of the American business experience” it is up to us to lend a hand to maximize their workplace experience.

It’s been said that each successive generation eventually leads the one before it. So look for ways to build bridges to the millennials in your workplace. Find out what is important to them, and help them achieve their goals.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the energizing impact this will bring to your own work life.

What are your workplace experiences with millennials? And are they making an impact at your company? How are they improving your engineering team?

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My Best Engineering Advice Ever

Life gives us teachable moments on a regular basis. The same may be said about advice, whether given or received.

One piece of sage wisdom given to me way back when, helped me as an engineer and continues to do so even now in my role as Diba’s U.S. National Sales Manager: look to specialists such as Diba Industries, when your project design hits a sticking point or even when you need an additional perspective on a project.

By way of example, discussions I’ve had with engineers designing inline heaters into IVD instruments have revolved around heater performance. Although there are many things to be considered when designing an inline fluid heater, give special consideration to fluid volume, flow rate, size, power, watt density, sensor location and materials. These are just some of the things that can affect the performance of a heater for an IVD application, and are ones that Diba application engineers consider when delivering a custom solution for our customers.

So, take my “best engineering advice ever,” and call on Diba Industries to help you design the ideal fluid handling system to meet the accuracy, performance and cost parameters of your IVD instrument. You might be happy that you did.

What was your best engineering advice you’ve ever given or received? Please share that advice with other readers.

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