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Aotea News - July 2014


Welcome to the July edition of Aotea News.  It is hard to believe that in November it will be 8 years since Aotea Pathology was formed from a merger of then Medical Laboratory Wellington and Valley Diagnostic Laboratories. We are proud to have built a pathology service that is greater than the sum of its parts.  It is in this spirit that we look to the future, through the contract renewal process currently underway.  You can read more about this below together with information on improvements to electrolyte testing, a new Antibiotic Susceptibility report and other items.

We hope you find this newsletter timely and relevant.  As always your feedback is welcome. 

Dr Karen Wood, CEO


3 DHBs Laboratory Contracts

Aotea Pathology's contract for community-referred laboratory services in the HVDHB and CCDHB regions expires in October 2015.

In 2013 the 3 DHB regions (CCDHB, HVDHB & Wairarapa) developed a long term strategy for the provision of laboratory services in their regions.  The strategy included opportunities for greater integration of hospital and community referred services.

The three DHB Boards agreed at their March 2014 board meetings that the next stage of the procurement process should explore opportunities to progress an integrated laboratory service and different partnership models, such as alliancing and joint venture arrangements.

Based on a decision by the three Boards in August 2014, the 3 DHBs will move to the next stage of the procurement progress, being a Request for Proposal (RFP).  

The Boards are expected to make a final decision by December 2014.

Further information can be found at  

Aotea Pathology is keen to remain a key provider of laboratory services in the region.  We will keep you updated on developments.  

Improving Electrolyte Testing

Aotea Pathology has been exploring solutions to prevent falsely elevated potassium results. We know this may occur if specimens are not centrifuged within 3 hours, or are stored cold prior to centrifugation.  In these situations it is difficult to know whether the elevated level is an artefact or true hyperkalemia.  

Since late June Aotea Pathology has been working towards centrifuging all electrolyte blood samples collected at Aotea Pathology Collection Centres, prior to transportation of the specimen to the laboratory.  Centrifugation removes the red cells from the serum, preventing potassium leaching out from the cells over time.  We therefore advise you to send your patients for electrolyte testing to one of our Collection Centres rather than take the sample at your practice.

A reminder that it is also important to note the date and time of collection on the request form when collecting specimens.

Stay up-to-date with Antibiotic Susceptibility Data 

We have recently produced our latest Antibiotic Susceptibility tables.  The table profiles the bacterial pathogens most commonly isolated from microbiology specimens submitted to Aotea Pathology as well as the antibiotics commonly used for treatment.  

Read more here

Antenatal Testing Prior to Pregnancy

Antenatal profile should not be used for non-pregnant testing. Sometimes antenatal first (with or without HIV) tests are requested on women prior to fertility treatment.  For the purposes of reporting to the MoH, it is important that these pre-fertility patients are not included in the pregnancy (antenatal) data.  In addition, the antenatal profile has different reference intervals/ranges for certain tests than for non-pregnant women.

For non-pregnant women requiring these tests either select the individual tests from the Immunology section of your request form, or set up a profile in eLab for pre-fertility treatment.  If you would like assistance to set up a profile please contact our Customer Liaison Manager, Fiona James on 04 381 5979 or email

Changes to Printed Report Format 

From 16 July our printed report format will change from A5 to A4 report paper. This means that more results will appear on each page, reducing the amount of paper to keep track of and file.  

Mislabelled Specimens

With the introduction of the new standard for specimen labelling there have been several practices whose labelling machine settings have resulted in specimen rejection.  

The correct setting for specimen labels should include the patient name, NHI and date of birth, not the patient address.  

Please ensure the correct setting is selected on your labelling machine.  

Midwives Emailed Reports Workshops

We have been holding 'bring your own electronic device' IT workshops for midwives to enable them to receive their results via email.  These workshops have been useful when setting up devices such as iPads, smartphones and laptops, and the benefit is obvious when you receive emailed results much quicker than via the postal system.

Aotea Pathology Quick Facts

Did you know?
  • Aotea Pathology performs 10,000 tests on 3,000 patients each day
  • We have 224 staff, and 82 years of continuous pathology service in the region
  • Our phlebotomy team perform 450 house calls each week
For further interesting facts, view our patient newsletter "Inside Aotea" here
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Aotea Pathology Limited
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