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Osmometers used in the laboratory to measure and display osmotic pressure and/or osmolality through a semipermeable membrane. Several techniques are used, such as cryoscopy, vapor-pressure, and/or colloid technology. In the clinical laboratory, these instruments are used to gather information used in the treatment of body fluid disorders and electrolyte imbalances such as those caused by diabetes and renal diseases, for cases of acute poisoning and shock trauma, and for postoperative monitoring of pulmonary edema and intravenous fluid delivery.
1. Results and alarm events should be displayed by the osmometer.
2. To facilitate results reporting to physicians, printouts should be offered by the osmometer. An interface option is desirable to allow the transfer of results to the facility's information system.
3. Facilities need to carefully examine their osmometer needs when evaluating the different osmometer methodologies.
4. Membranes are custom made for a specific vapor-pressure osmometer model, so when purchasing vapor-pressure osmometers, facilities must use the specific size and type of membrane designed for their devices. It could be difficult to use other types, and they may be forced to use only membranes made by the cryoscope manufacturer.
5. Facilities are encouraged to ask the osmometer manufacturer to provide a list of users in other laboratories and then check whether an instrument in one location gives the same readings as the same model in another laboratory. In case the results don't match, the facility should acquire conversion standards that can be used to compare dissimilar readings.
6. Facilities should examine the number of samples a cryoscope can process at one time and the processing time per sample. Larger facilities should consider osmometer devices with high sample throughput.
7. Facilities should carefully evaluate safety features with any osmometer instrument that processes potentially contaminated body fluids, such as blood. Buyers should look for designs that reduce contact between the operator and the sample, and whether the cryoscope device can use only custom-made reusable cuvettes or has sample chambers that must be manually decontaminated before reuse.
8. When performing osmometry or any other procedures that may cause exposure to body fluids, users should always apply universal precautions, including wearing disposable gloves, facial protection, gowns, and laboratory coats.
9. Disposing processed samples is an issue to be carefully considered due to the soaring cost of infectious-waste disposal. It is important to remember that osmometer instruments using larger sample sizes generally create larger amounts of infectious waste.