“I’ve worked in a few different hospitals that have pneumatic tube systems. When functioning, they are a great resource that connects my unit to other units as well as the lab, operating rooms, and pharmacy.
We can send specimens, paperwork, and medic-ations across the facility in a timely and efficient matter. In addition to the time it saves, the pneumatic system also eliminates the headache of arranging the transportation of these items between nurses and other hospital staff.
On my unit, Labor and Delivery, we typically use the tubes to send umbilical cord samples to the lab from the delivery suites and operating rooms for STAT analysis. This is to evaluate new-borns and to check for birth trauma. These values help us to determine treatment plans and influence our decisions to send the newborn to the intensive care unit.
A common theme in every hospital I’ve ever worked at is a malfunctioning pneumatic tube system. Our tubes are down a lot, which severely impacts our nursing practice.
There is a time-cost associated with organizing a porter to manually transport samples, documents, or medications around a very large hospital…
and that is only when there is a porter available.
Additionally, afterwards, we as nurses still need to call the destination location to ensure what-ever we were sending arrived at its intended destination in good time. On top of that, when the pneumatic tube system is down, nurses are required to retrieve medications directly from the pharmacy taking time away from their patients and directly impacting patient care.
Failed pneumatic tube systems are especially dangerous in labor and delivery. The most common sample we send to the lab for analysis is umbilical cord blood gas levels. They’re difficult to draw up properly and limited in blood, meaning there isn’t enough for additional samples.
We only get one shot. If these samples get stuck in the tube system, they spoil, and we will not get the results we need. This can mean the difference between life saving treatment, and the death of a newborn”