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J Mol Diagn. 2011 Mar;13(2):175-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2010.09.003.

A lean laboratory: operational simplicity and cost effectiveness of the Luminex xTAG™ respiratory viral panel.

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Department of Pathology, Children's Medical Center of Dallas and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.


During certain months of the year, viral respiratory infections lead to a dramatic increase in pediatric emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Rapid identification of the infectious organism results in timely treatment and reductions in hospital cost and length of stay. Before the introduction of molecular testing to the virology laboratory, diagnosis relied on the standard methods of immunofluorescence and culture. These tests can be labor-intensive and costly. Recent studies have demonstrated the higher sensitivity, faster turnaround, and broader diagnostic spectrum provided by multiplexed RT-PCR assays. Data comparing the laboratory cost and labor efficiency of the tests are lacking. To address this issue, we chose to implement the principles of operational workflow analysis using lean methodology to critically evaluate the potential advantages of a multiplexed RT-PCR assay both in terms of workflow and cost effectiveness. Our results indicated that the implementation of the Luminex xTAG Respiratory Viral Panel (RVP) resulted in a standardized workflow with decreased requirements in laboratory cost as well as improvement in efficiency. In summary, we demonstrate that, in our laboratory, the Luminex xTAG RVP is more operationally streamlined and cost-effective than standard viral direct fluorescent antibody and culture. Further studies are needed to highlight additional benefits of the test, including shortened hospital stay and improved patient outcome.

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