A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that using medical drones to carry blood samples could give healthcare workers a quick way to access lab tests needed to diagnose and treat patients.
To conduct the study, researchers collected six blood samples from 56 participants at Johns Hopkins Hospital. They drove the samples to a location that was an hour away by car on days when the temperature reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Next, half the samples were packed in a hand-launched, fixed wing drone and flown around for anywhere between six to 38 minutes. The flights took place in an unpopulated area; the drone stayed below 100 meters and remained in the pilot’s sight at all times.
Both samples, flown and driven, were then taken to the hospital where they underwent 33 common lab tests. The tests account for nearly 80% of all tests done on blood samples, (i.e. tests for sodium and glucose.)
Researchers compared the blood test results—flown versus driven—and discovered that the flight didn’t affect the tests.
However, the team did note that there was a difference in results for the bicarbonate test—according to researchers, it could be attributed to the samples sitting for nearly eight hours before being tested.
The next step would be to conduct a pilot study in Africa, where clinics can be 60 miles or more away from testing labs.
Source for Today’s Article:
Paddock, C., “Drone transport does not affect blood samples,” Medical News Today web site, July 30, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297498.php.