Urine dipstick precision with standard visual and automated methods within a small animal teaching hospital

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Abstract

Urine dipstick results may vary between operators/methods. The magnitude of variation across the veterinary field is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to compare the precision of urine dipstick results between standard direct visual and automated reading methods when performed by several operators. Urine samples were pooled and divided into three aliquots: one plain, one with glucose and one with serum. Final year students, veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, blinded to each sample, were then asked to perform dipstick analysis with direct visualisation and an automated analyser, and their technique was observed. A subsequent session was undertaken with samples which had pH titrated to achieve an acidic, neutral or alkaline value. Sixty-four veterinary students, 20 veterinary surgeons and seven veterinary nurses performed the first (n=61) or second (n=30) part of the study. Precision was greater using the automated reader. The most common observed technique errors were: lack of sample mixing, for both visual and automated methods, and not timing readings as per manufacturer instructions when performing visual analysis. This study suggests that in an environment with multiple operators, as is the case in veterinary teaching or large private hospitals, automated urine dipstick reading improves precision of results.

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