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Jan 14 / Jonathan

A series of tubes

I most sincerely hope that it’s possible to get a look at this system. I’m completely fascinated.

Gone with the wind: Tubes are whisking samples across hospital

tubes3-011110.jpgEvery day, 7,000 times a day, Stanford Hospital staff turn to pneumatic tubes, cutting-edge technology in the 19th century, for a transport network that the Internet and all the latest Silicon Valley wizardry can’t match: A tubular system to transport a lab sample across the medical center in the blink of an eye.

In four miles of tubing laced behind walls from basement to rooftop, the pneumatic tube system shuttles foot-long containers carrying everything from blood to medication. In a hospital the size of Stanford, where a quarter-mile’s distance might separate a tissue specimen from its destination lab, making good time means better medicine.

“Approximately 70 percent of the information on a patient’s chart is lab data,” said David Myrick, quality coordinator for the hospital’s clinical labs. “We conduct about 8 million tests a year, serving thousands of patients. We are going full blast, 24-7, at the highest level of testing. The tube system is part of a complex chain of events that ultimately give doctors the essential lab results they need to make decisions about our patients.”

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