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Blood testing coming to a pharmacy near you!

Blood testing coming to a pharmacy near you!

Silicon Valley company Theranos has recently sealed a deal with Walgreen’s Pharmacy (the largest pharmacy chain in the USA) to deliver on-site laboratory services to many of its stores. Blood is drawn with a finger stick and your results are available 4 hours later. Not sure if they are sent to you as well as your doctor (wouldn't that be great!).

From the article, a rather dubious claim:-

"All of the diagnostic technology is integrated, which increases precision. Each machine in a conventional lab may calibrate differently, and the mix of brands and ages in means results come with an implied “or so” at the end. Plotting results over time is therefore mostly useless."

Personally, I'd prefer to have my blood testing done by the same pathology laboratory where I would anticipate regular calibrations were performed and I know that someone will actually look at an unusual result. Obtaining accurate non-lymphocyte blood counts can be a challenge for automated machines, with the vast number of B-lymphocytes sometimes confusing the counting.

I'd also be suspicious of how often these pharmaceutical based testers would be calibrated and where the calibration was done. If the test unit is "returned to base" for calibration, what guarantee is there that transport back to the pharmacy (or another pharmacy, as they'd probably be rotated) hasn't impacted the calibration?

Given over 5 billion blood tests are performed every year in the USA alone, this is obviously an attractive market. If In Pharmacy blood testing becomes more readily available, it could be useful for a quick check out of hours or over the weekend, but for serious concerns, I think a visit to A&E might be preferable.


The accompanying photo is not the control panel for a blood analyser, but part of the Wessex Helicopter cockpit. The Wessex was used by Australian forces in the the Vietnam war 40 years ago.

2 Replies

When my blood is tested it takes 3 vials, so cannot see what they can achieve or test for with a finger stick, other than simple tests like a diabetic needs to monitor sugar levels.

I was reading in today's Mail on line about a little one who was treated for an unresponsive cold. They only discovered when her condition had deteriorated and she was taken to the hospital and her blood was tested there, that she actually had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and was given an immediate blood transfusion, and taken to a cancer specialist hospital for treatment.

Now if that could be diagnosed within 4 hours at a local pharmacy, before anyone deteriorated enough to be taken to hospital, what a development that would be. Shan't be holding my breath just yet.


The wessex photo was so clear, but much prefer photos of flora and fauna from the land down under :-)


It's two or three vials for me too.

I much prefer photographing the natural world, as you've probably noticed.

I finally got around to visiting an aeronautical museum last week and thought I'd try my new camera in low light conditions with and without the flash. It worked surprisingly well without a flash in many circumstances. I was after something to indicate complexity, so that's why I chose the cockpit photo. FYI, the helicopter is there as an in memoriam exhibit for a helicopter crew that finished their mission, reported success and were never heard from again. Many, many years later the crash site was found and the families eventually had closure.

The helicopter interior is very roomy, but the cockpit is extremely cramped. I took the photo standing on the bench seat used by the troops to give me sufficient height to look into the cockpit.


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