Among the many things medical practitioners learned during the COVID pandemic is the need to be able to conduct a large number of lab tests quickly and accurately. Hamilton Health Sciences was picked as one of the first to test out an Innovative bacteria identification system that helps identify various bacteria so people with serious illnesses, can get the right antibiotic faster. During the third wave of COVID the HHSC lab had to process 7,600 cultures of which 1,600 we positive COVID cases. This often led to technicians lining up at equipment to get their sides evaluated.
The VITEK MS PRIME system rapidly identifies bacterial organisms in patient cultures, so doctors can prescribe the most effective antibiotic for treating serious conditions such as sepsis and flesh-eating disease. “We know that having patients on the right antibiotic as quickly as possible decreases mortality,” says Dr. Deborah Yamamura, interim director of microbiology for the Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program (HRLMP) and a consultant in infectious diseases for HHS. “The new PRIME system can rapidly identify 54 bacterial organisms in 19 minutes. Rapid identification means that we identify the cause of infection and treat patients faster, leading to improved outcomes. PRIME provides test results four times faster than the earlier VITEK MS version.”
The evaluation is a joint venture between HHS and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (St. Joes), with HHS handling bacteriology and fungal testing at its HGH lab. The regional program serves hospital systems including HHS, St. Joes, Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington and other healthcare facilities in the province. Its expert team includes microbiologists, technical specialists, medical lab technologists and medical lab assistants.
PRIME makes lab work quicker and easier, with a database that’s consistently expanding with emerging pathogens and species. Its speedy results give physicians the ability to prescribe the right antibiotics sooner — or avoid prescribing them altogether if that’s the best course of action.
HGH’s lab was the only one in North America — and one of only three labs globally — chosen to evaluate the PRIME system.
“Several microbiology laboratory technologists test drove the PRIME system and were impressed by it,” says Mark Gaskin, technical specialist for microbiology. The HRLMP opted to keep PRIME in place after the evaluation process ended because the system worked so well.