Why IOP Does Not Endorse Used Laboratory Equipment
Here are ten reasons why IOP, unlike many others, uses only new equipment at its in-office anatomic pathology laboratories for specialty physician groups:
• Equipment – Each time a pathology laboratory is to be built with used equipment, the roster of equipment is different based on what is available at that time. This means laboratory design cannot be started until all of the equipment has been purchased. Along the way, equipment specifications (ex. – dimensions) have to be gathered and provided to the architect. It becomes a long drawn out process. Time is money and added time means lost revenues.br />
• Lab Design – Because used equipment presents new specifications each time, the architect has to prepare a customized laboratory design. This increases the cost of lab design significantly. It also delays the launch of the new laboratory. Again, time is money.
• Histotech Training – There is an excellent chance the used equipment will be from a variety of manufacturers based on the nature of the used equipment market. Who will provide training for your histotech on the various pieces of equipment? Original equipment manufacturers will not do so unless they first do preventive maintenance on the equipment. You then will be charged for maintenance and their training time. Also, you will be responsible for contacting all the manufacturers to arrange for preventive maintenance and to schedule training.
• Parts Replacement – We have seen several used equipment quotes lately. Some equipment is ten (10) years old! Most of it is out of production therefore getting parts is a real problem. With such old equipment comes downtime, the plague of a pathology laboratory as it increases costs. Turnaround time also suffers while waiting for equipment field service.
• Field Service – Most used equipment comes with a ninety (90) day limited warranty versus new equipment with a twelve (12) month standard warranty. That alone should be a clue as to what you are buying when you go to the used equipment market. We don’t recommend any used equipment for an in-office anatomic pathology lab. Testing done in pathology laboratories is too critical to trust to used equipment.
• Equipment Downtime – With used equipment you will suffer equipment downtime and that means no tissue slides will be prepared for your pathologist to diagnose. A field service call must be made to the manufacturer of the equipment. Unless you have a service contract on the used equipment, expect to wait at least two days for service. And without a service contract, the rate charged will be steep. Histotechs cringe when they see a lab filled with used equipment because they know what they are facing in terms of downtime. Again, time is money.
• Policy and Procedure Manuals – Your histotech will have to create a CLIA required policy and procedure manuals from scratch tied to the type of used equipment purchased. It may take your histotech a month of full time effort to create the manuals. Once again, time is money.
• Venting – Many of the older tissue processor models require external venting while most of the new processors are self-contained. The exception is microwave processors which need external venting and are not recommended. Venting dramatically adds to the construction cost because a hole has to be made through the building’s wall or roof. This almost always requires a building permit and to get that requires drawings prepared by a state licensed architect.
• Reagent Overusage – Just like older cars, older equipment will consume more reagents than new equipment thus increasing your daily laboratory operating costs.
• Quality of Equipment – We recommend Leica equipment as it is the best quality histology equipment available. Leica is the only manufacturer to provide all the laboratory equipment needed to operate an in-office pathology laboratory, from microtomes to microscopes. And, they have an excellent field and technical service organization spread across the country.
Used laboratory equipment originates from several sources, such as commercial reference laboratories (ex - Quest Diagnostics), hospitals and others. They sell equipment to rebuilders/refurbishers at the end of its useful life which might be after hundreds of thousands of test cycles. Much of the equipment is sold outside the US into third world countries. There aren’t any endoscopic scopes with such use cycles so they are not comparable with laboratory equipment. The rebuilders/refurbishers buy equipment at 15 cents on the dollar and sell it to unsuspecting specialty physicians at a significant markup for their new in-office laboratories. We don’t believe you would buy a 1984 Toyota with 300,000 miles but that’s generally what you get when you buy used laboratory equipment. We don’t recommend that any of our specialty physicians buy used equipment for pathology labs.
NOTE: IOP has never nor does it ever intend to sell, re-sell or distribute any equipment, new or old.