Advancing In-House Laboratory Diagnostic Capacity: Small Steps in Improving Efficiency in Animal Care and Optimized Use of Resources
In-house laboratories at zoological facilities play key roles in all aspects of sample processing and, depending on availability of equipment and technical skills, sample analysis. While sample processing provides minimum initial measures to ensure adequate sample quality and submission to diagnostic laboratories, the extent of in-house laboratory sample analyses can vary from basic clinicopathologic testing to microbiologic and molecular techniques. The objectives of this presentation are to 1) present three examples for advancing in-house routine laboratory diagnostic capacity requiring minimal capital outlay and to 2) discuss successful outcomes. Three initiatives were chosen: continuing education of our veterinary technician team, using fecal cytology for guidance of additional diagnostic testing of fecal samples, and in-house fibrinogen measurement. Continuing education as a first step contributed to facilitating communication and building upon training sessions. These initial focused special topic seminars were followed by continuous clinical case rounds with discussion of findings relevant to laboratory procedures and problem-solving, leading to noticeable improvements in laboratory workflow. The second initiative was the development of an algorithm on fecal testing using cytologic evaluation in context of clinical findings as a basis for smart decision making, resulting in substantially reduced use of microbiology testing and consequently considerable reductions in cost. The third measure included initiation of in-house fibrinogen testing, which contributed to rapid diagnostic results and additional cost savings. Implementation of these measures are examples of promoting consistency, efficiency, and diagnostic value of in-house diagnostics ultimately contributing to improvements in animal care and optimization of using available resources.
The authors thank the dedicated veterinary technician team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo and Friends for their enthusiasm and contributions in all steps of implementation of these efforts.