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Published on July 05, 2017

Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health’s Pathology Department Acquires High Tech Bacterial Identification System

New System Provides Rapid Identification of Bacteria and Fungi for Early and Appropriate Treatment

Bacterial Identification System

ABINGTON, PA (July 5, 2017)—The Department of Pathology at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health has a new addition to its department which simplifies workflow and provides answers to physicians about patient illnesses faster so treatment can be expedited.

Patients presenting to the Emergency Room or physician’s office can have a bacterial or fungal infection.  In these cases, a sample for culture is taken from the patient and sent to the Microbiology Lab in Pathology for identification and testing of responsiveness to antibiotics.  Some examples of illnesses for which one would need this testing include bacterial or fungal infections such as:  Staph aureus, E. Coli, Candida or other bacterial or fungal sepsis.   The process for obtaining comprehensive test results usually takes between 36 to 48 hours.

Not anymore.  The Abington Hospital Microbiology Laboratory has recently installed a MALDI-TOF instrument.  MALDI-TOF is short for: Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight mass spectrometry, a new technology for the rapid identification of bacteria.  The system replaces the labor intensive biochemical analysis which normally takes an additional 24 hours to complete.

“This is a game changer,” says Herbert Auerbach, MD, chair, Pathology Department, Abington-Jefferson Health.  “In some cases, this system can provide results in less than 24 hours.  We are comparing this to a process which previously took 24 to 48 hours.”

Todd Braun, MD, chief, Infectious Diseases Division, Abington-Jefferson Health, explains the benefits to physicians and their patients. “As physicians, we treat patients based on our training and experience after analyzing the symptoms they present, but until we get that positive test result from the lab, we don’t have absolute confirmation of what we are treating,” said Dr. Braun.  “This high tech bacterial identification system confirms our educated guesses more quickly so we can be sure we are using the right antibiotic.” 

The new instrument has a database of organisms that is updated on a regular basis as new bacteria and fungi are identified.  During the testing process, patient samples are matched to information in the database to reach a conclusion about the bacteria’s identity.

The ability to acquire this new technology was made possible by a gift from Barbara and David S. Loeb, Jr. of Glenside, PA.

About Abington – Jefferson Health

Abington – Jefferson Health encompasses Abington Hospital in Abington, Abington – Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township, three Urgent Care Centers and six convenient outpatient facilities, which include Abington Health Center – Willow Grove, Abington Health Center – Warminster, Abington Health Center – Blue Bell, Abington Health Center – Lower Gwynedd Abington Health Center – Montgomeryville and Abington Health Center – Elkins Park. More than 1,400 physicians are on staff at both Abington Hospital and Abington – Lansdale Hospital. In addition, some physicians are members of Abington Health Physicians, an employed network of primary care physicians and specialists. Abington – Jefferson Health is part of Jefferson Health and Jefferson, a newly formed organization dedicated to providing the highest quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educating the health professionals of tomorrow, and discovering new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

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