Tulane Medical Center Lab processes coronavirus tests in four hours

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Photo credit Jim Hanzo

There’s widespread frustration about how long it can take to get results back for a coronavirus test, but at the Tulane Medical Center Laboratories tests only take four hours.

Medical Director Dr. Byron Crawford says initially the only FDA approved test was a manual procedure, but the feds recently OK’d a new procedure using equipment Tulane has on-site.

“It’s basically an automated instrument where you can do about 94 tests every four hours,” says Crawford.

They run tests in two batches a day for a total of about 200 tests a day for patients who go to University Medical Center or Tulane Medical Center.

Crawford says this kind of equipment is vital because it allows hospitals to quickly process which patients have COVID-19, and which don’t.

“It will reduce all of the resources that you need to take care of COVID patients, because if you eliminate the ones that don’t have it you don’t need as many doctors and nurses, and you don’t need as much protective equipment,” says Crawford.

Crawford says he’s confident this kind of technology will be widely available to other medical centers, and soon.

“I think in the next week to two weeks we are not going to have the problem of increased turnaround time to diagnose COVID patients,” says Crawford.

The project is a joint venture by Tulane, LSU School of Medicine, Children’s Medical Center, and UMC, with the equipment provided by Roche.