Automation in the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory

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TECHNOLOGIC developments in analytical chemistry have made it possible for the modern clinical chemistry laboratory to meet an ever-increasing workload despite a shortage of trained laboratory technologists. Furthermore, automatic machines have made possible an accuracy and a reliability seldom attained before in the laboratory. But the new and seemingly complicated equipment has brought with it a greater than ever need for mechanical, electrical, and electronic training for laboratory supervisors.

A number of technics are used to speed up various steps in analytic procedures that are performed in large numbers with repetitive steps; for example, it has been easy to automate pipeting. The Brewer automatic pipet (Fig. 1) uses a syringe driven by an offset cam and pumps, and delivers solutions through a system of ball-and-check valves to a delivery table. Another device used in some laboratories1, 2 to eliminate the manual step, of pipeting of sample and diluent consists of a buret that has a two-way stopcock. One side of the stopcock is connected to a vacuum line and can be used to pull the sample into the calibrated delivery tip. A turn of the stopcock connects to a diluting solution which flushes out the sample. An automatic version of this is used for dilutions of microquantities, and is especially valuable in making hematologic cell-count dilutions (Fig. 2).

Auto Analyzer* Full automation in clinical chemistry came with the development of the AutoAnalyzer by Skeggs.3 This machine is composed of a number of separate functional modules and uses a constant-flow system . . .



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