(19)
(11)EP 3 654 040 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
07.04.2021 Bulletin 2021/14

(21)Application number: 19217881.2

(22)Date of filing:  19.05.2014
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G01N 35/02(2006.01)
G01N 35/10(2006.01)
G01N 35/04(2006.01)
G01N 35/00(2006.01)

(54)

EMERGENCY SPECIMEN CONVEYING METHOD AND AUTOMATIC ANALYSER ADAPTED TO PERFORM THE METHOD

FÖRDERMETHODE FÜR PROBEN MIT GROSSER DRINGLICHKEIT UND DAZU ANGEPASSTER AUTOMATISCHER ANALYSATOR

PROCÉDÉ DE TRANSPORT D'ÉCHANTILLON URGENT ET ANALYSEUR AUTOMATIQUE ADAPTÉ POUR RÉALISER LE PROCÉDÉ


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 17.06.2013 JP 2013126248

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/21

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
14813997.5 / 3012635

(73)Proprietor: Hitachi High-Tech Corporation
Minato-ku Tokyo 105-6409 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • MAKINO, Akihisa
    Minato-ku,, Tokyo 105-8717 (JP)
  • HISHINUMA, Mitsuhiro
    Minato-ku,, Tokyo 105-8717 (JP)
  • SHIMAMORI, Toshiyuki
    Minato-ku,, Tokyo 105-8717 (JP)
  • ISHIZAWA, Masato
    Minato-ku,, Tokyo 105-8717 (JP)

(74)Representative: Strehl Schübel-Hopf & Partner 
Maximilianstrasse 54
80538 München
80538 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2007/139212
JP-A- 2008 003 010
WO-A1-2008/133708
US-A1- 2011 271 773
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Technical Field



    [0001] The present invention relates to an emergency conveying method in an automatic analyzer for analyzing a component amount included in a sample such as blood and urine, and specifically, an automatic analyzer having a plurality of analysis modules arranged along a conveying line of a specimen rack.

    Background Art



    [0002] An automatic analyzer for clinical examination automatically analyzes and examines an instructed analysis item relative to a specimen (sample) such as blood, blood plasma, serum, urine, and other body fluid. As the automatic analyzer, a stand-alone-type analyzer which is operated as an independent device and a modular-type analyzer which connects analysis units in a plurality of analysis fields such as biochemistry and immunity by using a specimen rack conveying line in order to rationalize a work of an examination room and operates it as a single device have been known. The modular-type automatic analyzer has the plurality of analysis units for analyzing reaction liquid which has been made by mixing and reacting the sample with a reagent. As a method for supplying the sample to the analysis unit, there is a method for positioning the specimen rack for storing the sample container at a sample suction position of the analysis unit via the conveying line. Since the specimen rack is normally conveyed and analyzed in an order of conveyance from a rack supplying unit by the conveying line, to convey an emergency specimen which needs to be analyzed as soon as possible to the analysis unit with higher priority is an issue.

    [0003] Regarding this issue, PTL 1 proposes a technique for supplying the specimen rack to the analysis unit by a disk-type rotatable specimen rack waiting unit according to the priority of the analysis

    [0004] Also, regarding an issue to improve processing capacity of the device, an automatic analyzer has been known which makes the plurality of specimen racks wait in a dispensing line of the analysis unit. PTL 2 introduces a technique for changing the number of specimen racks, which wait in the dispensing line, according to a mode such as a normal mode and an emergency mode.

    [0005] Also, an automatic analyzer in PTL 3 includes a rack switching unit. When the analysis of the emergency specimen rack is requested, sample dispense is stopped even when the sample of a normal specimen rack is dispensed, and the specimen rack is returned to the rack switching unit, and then, an emergency specimen rack is supplied from the rack switching unit to the sampling area. In this way, the automatic analyzer copes with the measurement with high urgency.

    [0006] Further, US 2011/0271773 A1 discloses an automatic analyser having a buffer in a conveying line, where a normal rack can temporarily move out of the way so that an emergency rack can pass by. JP 2008 003010 A discloses an automatic analyser where normal racks are placed on one end of a conveying line and emergency racks are placed on the opposite end of the line. The conveying line can move bidirectionally to feed either the normal or the emergency racks to a loading position located between those two ends. Related art is disclosed in WO 2008/133708 A1.

    Citation List


    Patent Literatures



    [0007] 

    PTL 1: JP 2008-281453 A

    PTL 2: JP 3930977 B2

    PTL 3: WO 10/087303 A


    Summary of Invention


    Technical Problem



    [0008] In the technique disclosed in PTL 1, there has been a problem in that an operation for storing the specimen rack during sampling to the specimen rack waiting unit again and putting the emergency specimen in the sampling area is poor in swiftness. Also, since a single conveying line in which the specimen can reciprocate connects between the rack waiting unit and the sampling area and the specimen rack is switched at every sampling, improvement in the processing capacity of the device has been limited.

    [0009] Also, with the technique disclosed in PTL 2, since a condition that the device is required is normally changed moment to moment, it is difficult to cope with a case where the analysis of the emergency specimen which needs to be measured as soon as possible is requested at the time of normal mode analysis.

    [0010] Also, in the technique disclosed in PTL 3, the rack switching unit is connected to the sampling area with the single conveying line, and the specimen rack comes and goes between the rack switching unit and the sampling area. Therefore, it is difficult to improve the processing capacity. It can be considered to place an emergency rack conveying line for conveying only a specimen rack with high urgency. However, complication of the device and increase in the device cost will be a problem. An idea can be considered in which the rack switching unit and the sampling are used in common. However, the rack switching unit having a plurality of slots as disclosed in PTL 3 needs a large space, and a rack switching operation interferes with the sample dispensing operation. Therefore, it is also difficult to improve the processing capacity.

    [0011] Regarding the modular-type automatic analyzer, a method for maintaining high processing capacity and immediately measuring an emergency specimen rack without complication of a device and increase in a device cost has been required.

    Solution to Problem



    [0012] The invention solving the above problem is defined by the appended claims.

    [0013] Features of a representative embodiment of the present invention will be described as follows.

    [0014] An automatic analyzer suitable for performing the invention includes: a conveying line configured to convey a specimen rack which stores a specimen container for holding a specimen; a plurality of analysis units configured to have a dispensing line in which the plurality of specimen racks arranged along the conveying line and waiting for sample dispensing is capable of waiting and to analyze and measure components included in the specimen; a sampling area configured to dispense the sample to the analysis unit; an identification device configured to be provided in the conveying line on the upstream side of the analysis unit and to read analysis request information relative to the specimen; and a controller configured to determine a conveyance path of the specimen rack from the analysis request information read by the identification device, and a rack evacuation area is provided in the dispensing line and at a position adjacent to the upstream side of the sampling area, and when the specimen rack exists in the sampling area at the time of measuring an emergency specimen, the controller moves the specimen rack to the evacuation area and positions an emergency specimen rack from the downstream side of the sampling area to the sampling area.

    [0015] The specimen rack can be conveyed by using any methods which can move the rack such as a belt conveyor system and a pushing-out arm system for pushing out and moving a rear end of the rack.

    [0016] With the configuration of the present invention, a conventional modular-type automatic analyzer with a high processing capacity can promptly analyze an emergency specimen without adding a new mechanism.

    Advantageous Effects of Invention



    [0017] An object of the present invention is to provide an emergency specimen conveying method in an automatic analyzer with high processing capacity which can immediately measure an emergency specimen rack while reducing complication of a device and increase in a device cost.

    Brief Description of Drawings



    [0018] 

    [FIG. 1] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a modular-type automatic analyzer in one embodiment of the present invention.

    [FIG. 2] FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a conveyance path of a specimen rack at the time of normal analysis according to an embodiment not covered by the present invention.

    [FIG. 3] FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a conveyance path of an emergency specimen rack according to one embodiment of the present invention.

    [FIG. 4] FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a normal analysis operation according to an embodiment not covered by the present invention.

    [FIG. 5] FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a sample dispensing operation of an analysis unit at the time of the normal analysis according to an embodiment not covered by the present invention.

    [FIG. 6] FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an emergency specimen analysis operation according to an embodiment not covered by the present invention.

    [FIG. 7] FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a sample dispensing operation of an analysis unit at the time of the emergency specimen analysis according to one embodiment of the present invention.


    Description of Embodiments



    [0019] An embodiment of the present invention will be described in detail below with reference to the drawings. In all the figures to describe the embodiment, components having the same function are denoted with the same symbol as a general rule, and repeated description on the component will be omitted as much as possible. When one or more specimen containers can be mounted on the specimen rack, the number of the mounted specimen containers is not limited.

    [0020] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a modular-type automatic analyzer which is one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a conveyance path of a specimen rack at the time of normal analysis.

    [0021] A first analysis unit 113 arranged along a conveying line 104 includes an identification device 119 to collate analysis request information relative to a sample stored in a specimen rack 101, a rack take-in mechanism 117 for receiving the specimen rack 101 from the conveying line 104, a sampling area 115 for dispensing a sample in a sample container of the specimen rack 101, a dispensing line 114 having a role for conveying the specimen rack 101 to the sampling area 115 and making the specimen rack 101 wait for start of the dispensing, a rack evacuation area 116 for saving the specimen rack 101 at the time of emergency specimen sampling, and a rack handling mechanism 118 for returning the specimen rack 101 after sampling to the conveying line 104 again.

    [0022] A second analysis unit 120 is arranged along the conveying line 104 and arranged adjacent to the first analysis unit 113. Similarly to the first analysis unit 113, the second analysis unit 120 includes an identification device 125, a rack take-in mechanism 124, a sampling area 122, a dispensing line 121, and a rack evacuation area 123.

    [0023] A biochemical analysis unit is considered as an exemplary analysis unit. An exemplary configuration of the biochemical analysis unit includes a reaction disk for proceeding a reaction of a sample with a reagent in reaction vessels circumferentially aligned and arranged according to various analysis items, a reagent disk for operating such that the reagent according to each analysis item is positioned at a reagent suction position, a sample dispensing mechanism for dispensing the sample in the sample container from the sampling area 115 to the reaction vessel on the reaction disk, and a reagent dispensing mechanism for dispensing the reagent according to the analysis item from a reagent bottle on the reagent disk to the reaction vessel on the reaction disk. It is preferable to arrange the analysis unit which generally has a high specimen processing capacity on the upstream side in order to prevent congestion of the specimen racks 101.

    [0024] FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a normal analysis operation, and FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a sample dispensing operation of the analysis unit at the time of normal analysis. The conveyance path of the specimen racks 101 at the time of the normal analysis will be described with reference to FIGS. 2, 4, and 5.

    [0025] When an input unit 129 requests an analysis, the analysis starts. A specimen rack number and a sample container number of the specimen rack 101 are recognized by reading an identification medium such as bar code labels attached on the specimen rack 101 and the sample container stored in the specimen rack 101 by an identification device 112 after the specimen rack 101 arranged in a rack supplying unit 102 has been transferred on the conveying line 104. Then, measurement request information is collated ((a) to (c) in FIG. 4). The specimen rack number and the sample container number recognized by the identification device 112 are transmitted to a controller 126, the type of the specimen rack 101, the kind of the analysis item instructed to each sample container, and the like are collated with analysis information which has been corresponded to a specimen receipt number and has been previously instructed by the input unit 129. The controller 126 determines a destination of the specimen rack 101 based on the collation result, and the destination is stored in a storage unit 127 and is used for processing to the specimen rack 101 after that.

    [0026] When there is a sample to which the analysis by the first analysis unit 113 has been requested ((d) and (e) in FIG. 4), the specimen rack 101 is conveyed to the identification device 119 of the first analysis unit 113, and the identification device 119 collates specimen rack information (analysis information) ((a) to (c) in FIG. 5). When there is an empty space in the dispensing line of the first analysis unit, the rack take-in mechanism 117 transfers the specimen rack 101 from the conveying line 104 to the dispensing line 114. When there is no empty space, the specimen rack 101 waits at that place ((d) to (f) in FIG. 5). The transferred specimen rack 101 is moved to the sampling area 115, and the sample is dispensed to the reaction vessel by inserting a dispensing nozzle of a specimen dispensing mechanism to the sample container to which the analysis has been instructed ((g) and (h) in FIG. 5). When examinations on two or more items have been instructed to the single sample container, and when an examination item has been instructed to another sample container on the same specimen rack 101, a sample collecting operation is subsequently repeated.

    [0027] The specimen rack 101, of which the samples regarding all the analysis items which have been instructed to the first analysis unit have been collected, is moved to a position where the rack handling mechanism 118 can cope with and is transferred on the conveying line 104 by the rack handling mechanism 118 ((i) and (j) in FIG. 5).

    [0028]  When there is a sample to which the analysis by the second analysis unit 120 has been requested ((f) and (g) in FIG. 4), as illustrated in FIG. 5, the specimen rack 101 is conveyed to the identification device 125 of the second analysis unit 120. Then, the identification device 125 collates specimen rack information (analysis information), and the rack take-in mechanism 124 transfers the specimen rack 101 from the conveying line 104 to the dispensing line 121. The transferred specimen rack 101 is moved to the sampling area 122, and the sample is dispensed to the reaction vessel by inserting the dispensing nozzle of the specimen dispensing mechanism into the sample container to which the analysis has been instructed. When the examinations on two or more items have been instructed to the single sample container, and when the examination item has been instructed to another sample container on the same specimen rack 101, the sample collecting operation is subsequently repeated ((a) to (i) in FIG. 5).

    [0029] The specimen rack 101, of which the samples regarding all the analysis items which have been instructed to the second analysis unit have been collected, is moved to a position where the rack handling mechanism 108 can cope with and is moved to a return line 105 by the rack handling mechanism 108 ((h) in FIG. 4), and then, the specimen rack 101 is conveyed to a rack sorting mechanism 110 by the return line 105.

    [0030] Since the specimen rack number of the conveyed specimen rack 101 has been stored in the storage unit 127, the controller 126 has already determined whether the specimen rack 101 is a specimen rack which needs no reexamination, such as a rack for control specimen, a rack for a standard sample, and a rack for cleaning liquid, or the specimen rack 101 is a specimen rack which has possibility to have the reexamination. Based on the determination, when there is no need for reexamination, the specimen rack 101 is moved to a rack returning mechanism 109 by the rack sorting mechanism 110 which has received a control signal of the controller 126 and stored in a rack storing unit 103 by the rack returning mechanism 109. When there is a possibility to have the reexamination, the specimen rack 101 is transferred to a waiting unit handling mechanism 107, is conveyed to a rack waiting unit 106, and waits for the determination regarding necessity of the reexamination ((i) in FIG. 4).

    [0031] On the other hand, the sample collected in the reaction vessel on the reaction disk of the analysis unit is reacted with the reagent dispensed by the reagent dispensing mechanism, and data corresponding to each analysis item measured after a predetermined time is output to the controller 126 ((j) in FIG. 4). The controller 126 collates a determination standard which has been previously set with the analysis examination data. When the measured data is not proper, the storage unit 127 stores that the specimen needs reexamination as corresponding it to the specimen rack number and the sample container number ((k) in FIG. 4). The specimen rack 101, which has determined that there is no need to have the reexamination, is moved from the rack waiting unit 106 to the return line 105 by the waiting unit handling mechanism 107 and conveyed to the rack returning mechanism 109 by the return line 105. Then, the specimen rack 101 is stored in the rack storing unit 103 by the rack returning mechanism 109. Regarding first analysis examination data and analysis examination data of the reexamination, the measured result is merged, and the merged measured result is output (display) to a display 128 ((1) to (n) in FIG. 4).

    [0032] The specimen rack 101 which has been determined by the controller 126 that it is necessary to have the reexamination based on the measured result of the first analysis unit 113 and the second analysis unit 120 is moved from the rack waiting unit 106 to the conveying line 104 by the waiting unit handling mechanism 107 and is conveyed to the first analysis unit 113 or the second analysis unit 120. The specimen rack 101 is analyzed in accordance with the above-mentioned procedure.

    [0033] FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a conveyance path of an emergency specimen rack according to one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an emergency specimen analysis operation. FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a sample dispensing operation of the analysis unit at the time of emergency specimen analysis. The conveyance path of the specimen rack 101 at the time of the emergency specimen analysis will be described with reference to FIGS. 3, 6, and 7. In FIG. 2, the specimen rack is conveyed in the dispensing line from the upstream to the downstream. Whereas, in FIG. 3, the emergency specimen rack is conveyed so as to be positioned in the sampling area from the downstream side of the sampling area. FIG. 2 is different from FIG. 3 at this point.

    [0034] When the input unit 129 requests the emergency specimen analysis, the analysis starts. When the specimen rack 101 is placed on an emergency specimen rack feeding unit 111, the specimen rack 101 on the emergency specimen rack feeding unit 111 is transferred to the conveying line 104 in priority to the specimen rack 101 existing in the rack supplying unit 102 ((a) and (b) in FIG. 6). The specimen rack number and the sample container number are recognized by reading an identification medium such as a bar code label attached to the specimen rack 101 and the sample container stored in the specimen rack 101 by the identification device 112 after the specimen rack 101 has been transferred to the conveying line 104. Then, the measurement request information is collated ((c) in FIG. 6). The specimen rack number and the sample container number recognized by the identification device 112 are transmitted to the controller 126, and the type of the specimen rack 101, the kind of the analysis item instructed to each sample container, and the like are collated with analysis information which has been corresponded to the specimen receipt number and has been previously instructed by the input unit 129. The controller 126 determines a destination of the specimen rack 101 based on the collation result, and the destination is stored in the storage unit 127 and is used for processing to the specimen rack 101 after that.

    [0035] When there is a sample to which the analysis by the first analysis unit 113 has been requested ((d) and (e) in FIG. 6), the specimen rack 101 is conveyed to the identification device 119 of the first analysis unit 113, and the identification device 119 collates specimen rack information (analysis information) ((a) to (c) in FIG. 7). When it is confirmed whether the specimen rack 101 dispensing the sample exists in the sampling area 115 ((d) in FIG. 7) and the specimen rack 101 does not exist, the specimen rack 101 is conveyed to a position, where the rack take-in mechanism 117 can cope with, by the conveying line 104 ((i) in FIG. 7). The specimen rack 101 stopped on the conveying line 104 is transferred to the dispensing line 114 by the rack take-in mechanism 117, and the transferred specimen rack 101 is moved to the sampling area 115. Then, the sample is dispensed to the reaction vessel by inserting the dispensing nozzle of the specimen dispensing mechanism into the sample container to which the analysis has been instructed ((j) to (1) in FIG. 7).

    [0036] When the specimen rack 101 exists in the sampling area 115, the sampling area 115 is made empty by retreating the specimen rack 101 in the sampling area 115 to the rack evacuation area 116 ((e) in FIG. 7). The specimen rack 101 having the emergency specimen mounted thereon is conveyed to the rack handling mechanism 118 by the conveying line 104 and moved to the dispensing line 114 by a rack handling mechanism (f) and (g) in FIG. 7). The specimen rack 101 is moved to the sampling area 115 by the dispensing line 114, and the sample is dispensed to the reaction vessel by inserting the dispensing nozzle of the specimen dispensing mechanism into the sample container to which the analysis has been instructed ((h) and (1) in FIG. 7) .

    [0037] In this way, when the rack evacuation area 116 is provided in the dispensing line 114 and at a position adjacent to the upstream side of the sampling area 115 and the specimen rack exists in the sampling area 115 at the time of measuring the emergency specimen, the controller 126 moves the specimen rack to the rack evacuation area 116 and positions the emergency specimen rack from the downstream side of the sampling area 115 to the sampling area. Accordingly, an automatic analyzer with high processing capacity which can immediately measure an emergency specimen rack while reducing complication of a device and increase in a device cost can be provided. As described above, when the specimen rack does not exist in the sampling area 115 at the time of measuring the emergency specimen, the controller 126 positions the emergency specimen rack from the upstream side of the sampling area to the sampling area.

    [0038] Also, the specimen rack 101 during sampling and the specimen rack 101 having the emergency specimen mounted thereon may be separately moved. Also, after the specimen rack 101 having the emergency specimen mounted thereon has been moved to the dispensing line, both specimen racks 101 may be moved at the same time. That is, the specimen rack in the sampling area 115 and the emergency specimen rack may be moved to the upstream side in the dispensing line at the same time, and the specimen rack in the sampling area 115 and the emergency specimen rack may be respectively moved to the rack evacuation area 116 and the sampling area. Accordingly, two specimen racks can be moved from the downstream side to the upstream side in the dispensing line by a single line control operation, and the two specimen racks can be more effectively moved than a case where the two specimen racks are separately moved.

    [0039] In order to move the two specimen racks by the single line control operation, it is preferable that a space for a single specimen rack be provided on the dispensing line so that the rack handling mechanism 118 transfers the emergency specimen rack on the dispensing line 114 even when the specimen rack is positioned in the sampling area 115. Also, a space where at least a single specimen rack can wait is provided in the rack evacuation area 116.

    [0040] Also, it is necessary to perform processing so as to realize the above control in a normal condition. That is, the controller 126 controls a stopping position of the specimen rack in the dispensing line so that the specimen rack does not stop in the rack evacuation area 116, and accordingly, the specimen rack existing in the sampling area 115 can move to the rack evacuation area.

    [0041] Therefore, the specimen racks may be moved so that a space for a single specimen rack is provided on the upstream side of the rack evacuation area in the dispensing line as the interval between the specimen racks conveyed to the dispensing line. Also, in order not to provide the space for the rack evacuation area, a known rack stopper may be provided immediately before the rack evacuation area on the upstream side to prevent the entry of the rack. Also, when the dispensing line is configured of a single line, it is considered that the specimen rack immediately before the rack evacuation area on the upstream side is concurrently retreated to the time when the specimen rack is positioned in the rack evacuation area. To avoid such retreat, a known rack stopper may be provided on the upstream side of the specimen rack so that the specimen rack immediately before the rack evacuation area of the specimen rack is not retreated to the upstream side in the dispensing line. In order to prevent the specimen rack from moving forward and entering the rack evacuation area at the same time when the specimen rack is moved from the rack evacuation area to the sampling area 115, it is effective to provide a known rack stopper in this case.

    [0042] The specimen rack 101, of which the samples regarding all the analysis items which have been instructed have collected, is moved to a position where the rack handling mechanism 118 can cope with and is transferred on the conveying line 104 by the rack handling mechanism 118 ((m) to (o) in FIG. 7).

    [0043] When the analysis by the second analysis unit 120 has been requested, the specimen rack 101 is conveyed to the second analysis unit. According to the similar operation to the above, the specimen rack 101 is conveyed, and the sample is dispensed to the second analysis unit ((f) and (g) in FIG. 6).

    [0044] The specimen rack 101, of which the samples regarding all the analysis items which have been instructed have collected, is moved to a position where the rack handling mechanism 108 can cope with, is moved to the return line 105 by the rack handling mechanism 108 ((h) in FIG. 6), and is conveyed to the rack sorting mechanism 110 by the return line 105.

    [0045] When the conveyed specimen rack 101 does not need to have the reexamination, the conveyed specimen rack 101 is moved to the rack returning mechanism 109 by the rack sorting mechanism 110 which has received the control signal from the controller 126 and stored in the rack storing unit 103 by the rack returning mechanism 109. When there is a possibility to have the reexamination, the specimen rack 101 is transferred to the waiting unit handling mechanism 107 and moved to the rack waiting unit 106. Then, the specimen rack 101 waits until the necessity of the reexamination is determined ((i) in FIG. 6). The controller 126 collates the determination standard which has been previously set with the analysis examination data. When the measured data is not proper, the storage unit 127 stores that the specimen needs reexamination as corresponding it to the specimen rack number and the sample container number ((k) in FIG. 6). The specimen rack 101, which has determined that there is no need to have the reexamination, is moved from the rack waiting unit 106 to the return line 105 by the waiting unit handling mechanism 107 and is conveyed to the rack returning mechanism 109 by the return line 105. Then, the specimen rack 101 is stored in the rack storing unit 103 by the rack returning mechanism 109. Regarding the first analysis examination data and the analysis examination data of the reexamination, the measured result is merged, and the merged measured result is output (display) to the display 128 ((1) to (n) in FIG. 6).

    [0046] With the configuration according to the present embodiment, an automatic analyzer with high processing capacity which can immediately measure an emergency specimen rack while reducing complication of a device and increase in a device cost can be provided.

    [0047] A case has been described in which an identification device is provided in each analysis unit. However, the identification device 112 may have the role without providing the identification device in each analysis unit. Also, the rack supplying unit, the rack storing unit, and the rack waiting unit have been described with reference to FIG. 1. However, they are not essential components in the present invention, and the present invention can be applied to a device which does not have the supplying unit, storing unit, and the waiting unit provided therein.

    Reference Signs List



    [0048] 
    101
    specimen rack
    102
    rack supplying unit
    103
    rack storing unit
    104
    conveying line
    105
    return line
    106
    rack waiting unit
    107
    waiting unit handling mechanism
    108
    rack handling mechanism
    109
    rack returning mechanism
    110
    rack sorting mechanism
    111
    emergency specimen rack feeding unit
    112
    identification device (conveying line)
    113
    first analysis unit
    114
    dispensing line (first analysis unit)
    115
    sampling area (first analysis unit)
    116
    rack evacuation area (first analysis unit)
    117
    rack take-in mechanism (first analysis unit)
    118
    rack handling mechanism (first analysis unit)
    119
    identification device (first analysis unit)
    120
    second analysis unit
    121
    dispensing line (second analysis unit)
    122
    sampling area (second analysis unit)
    123
    rack evacuation area (second analysis unit)
    124
    rack take-in mechanism (second analysis unit)
    125
    identification device (second analysis unit)
    126
    controller
    127
    storage unit
    128
    display
    129
    input unit



    Claims

    1. An emergency specimen conveying method of an automatic analyzer including:

    a sampling area (115, 122) configured to serve as a position where a specimen is dispensed from a specimen container into a reaction vessel;

    one dispensing lane (114, 121) configured to include a waiting area (116, 123) where a specimen rack (101) waits until the dispensing starts, on an upstream side of the sampling area, and to convey the specimen rack in a first direction from the upstream side to a downstream side; and

    a conveying lane (104) configured to convey the specimen rack (101) in the first direction wherein the dispensing lane (114, 121) receives the specimen rack from the conveying lane upstream of the sampling area (115, 122) and characterized in that the dispensing lane returns the specimen rack to the conveying lane downstream of the sampling area, and in that,
    when the specimen rack (101) is present in the sampling area (115, 122), the dispensing lane (114, 121) is configured to receive an emergency specimen rack from the conveying lane (104) at the downstream side of the sampling area (115, 122) and the emergency specimen rack is conveyed on the dispensing lane in a second direction opposite to the first direction.


     
    2. The specimen conveying method according to claim 1,
    wherein one dispensing lane (114, 121) conveys the emergency specimen rack existing on the downstream side of the sampling area to the sampling area.
     
    3. The specimen conveying method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein identification information of the specimen rack (101) and/or the specimen container stored in the specimen rack is read.
     
    4. The specimen conveying method according to claim 3,
    wherein the conveyance of the specimen rack (101) is controlled on the basis of the read identification information.
     
    5. The specimen conveying method according to any one of claims 1 to 4,
    wherein, after the dispensing of the specimen held in the specimen container stored in the specimen rack (101) conveyed to the sampling area, the specimen rack is waited until it is determined whether reexamination is needed or not.
     
    6. The specimen conveying method according to any one of claims 1 to 5,
    wherein the dispensing lane (114, 121) is configured so that a space for at least a single specimen rack (101) can be secured on the downstream side of the sampling area (115, 122), the space being used for conveying the emergency specimen rack from the conveying lane (104).
     
    7. An automatic analyzer configured to execute the method of any of claims 1 to 6.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Eilproben-Förderverfahren für einen automatischen Analysator, der Folgendes enthält:

    einen Probennahmebereich (115, 122), der als Ort eingerichtet ist, an dem eine Probe aus einem Probenbehälter in ein Reaktionsgefäß abgegeben werden kann;

    eine Abgabebahn (114, 121), die stromaufwärtsseitig des Probennahmebereichs mit einem Wartebereich (116, 123), an dem ein Probengestell (101) wartet, bis die Abgabe beginnt, sowie zum Fördern des Probengestells in eine erste Richtung von einer stromaufwärtigen zu einer stromabwärtigen Seite ausgestaltet ist; und

    eine Förderbahn (104) zum Fördern des Probengestells (101) in die erste Richtung, wobei die Abgabebahn (114, 121) das Probengestell von der Förderbahn stromaufwärts des Probennahmebereichs (115, 122) entgegennimmt,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Abgabebahn das Probengestell stromabwärts des Probennahmebereichs an die Förderbahn zurückgibt, und

    wenn im Probennahmebereich (115, 122) ein Probengestell (101) vorhanden ist, die Abgabebahn (114, 121) eingerichtet ist, ein Eilprobengestell stromabwärts des Probennahmebereichs (115, 122) von der Förderbahn (104) entgegenzunehmen, und das Eilprobengestell auf der Abgabebahn in eine der ersten Richtung entgegengesetzte zweite Richtung gefördert wird.


     
    2. Probenförderverfahren nach Anspruch 1,
    wobei eine Abgabebahn (114, 121) das stromabwärtsseitig des Probennahmebereichs vorliegende Eilprobengestell zum Probennahmebereich fördert.
     
    3. Probenförderverfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2,
    wobei Identifikationsinformationen des Probengestells (101) und/oder des im Probengestell gelagerten Probenbehälters gelesen werden.
     
    4. Probenförderverfahren nach Anspruch 3,
    wobei das Fördern des Probengestells (101) aufgrund der gelesenen Identifikationsinformationen gesteuert wird.
     
    5. Probenförderverfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4,
    wobei nach Abgabe der Probe, die im Probenbehälter gehalten wird, der in dem zum Probennahmebereich geförderten Probengestell (101) gelagert ist, das Probengestell warten gelassen wird, bis bestimmt ist, ob eine Nachuntersuchung notwendig ist.
     
    6. Probenförderverfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5,
    wobei die Abgabebahn (114, 121) so eingerichtet ist, dass stromabwärtsseitig des Probennahmebereichs (115, 122) Raum für mindestens ein einzelnes Probengestell (101) sichergestellt ist, wobei der Raum zum Fördern des Eilprobengestells aus der Förderbahn (104) verwendet wird.
     
    7. Automatischer Analysator, der zum Ausführen des Verfahrens nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6 eingerichtet ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de transport d'éprouvette d'urgence d'un analyseur automatique incluant :

    une zone d'échantillonnage (115, 122) configurée pour servir comme une position où une éprouvette est distribuée depuis un récipient pour éprouvette jusque dans un récipient de réaction ;

    une voie de distribution (114, 121) configurée pour inclure une zone d'attente (116, 123) où un râtelier pour éprouvette (101) attend jusqu'à ce que la distribution commence, sur un côté amont de la zone d'échantillonnage, et pour transporter le râtelier pour éprouvette dans une première direction du côté amont jusqu'à un côté aval ; et

    une voie de transport (104) configurée pour transporter le râtelier pour éprouvette (101) dans la première direction, dans lequel la voie de distribution (114, 121) reçoit le râtelier pour éprouvette de la voie de transport en amont de la zone d'échantillonnage (115, 122), et

    caractérisé en ce que la voie de distribution renvoie le râtelier pour éprouvette jusqu'à la voie de transport en aval de la zone d'échantillonnage,

    et en ce que, lorsque le râtelier pour éprouvette (101) est présent dans la zone d'échantillonnage (115, 122), la voie de distribution (114, 121) est configurée pour recevoir un râtelier pour éprouvette d'urgence depuis la voie de transport (104) au niveau du côté aval de la zone d'échantillonnage (115, 122) et le râtelier pour éprouvette d'urgence est transporté sur la voie de distribution dans une deuxième direction opposée à la première direction.


     
    2. Procédé de transport d'éprouvette selon la revendication 1,
    dans lequel une voie de distribution (114, 121) transporte le râtelier pour éprouvette d'urgence existant sur le côté aval de la zone d'échantillonnage jusqu'à la zone d'échantillonnage.
     
    3. Procédé de transport d'éprouvette selon la revendication 1 ou 2,
    dans lequel des informations d'identification du râtelier pour éprouvette (101) et/ou du récipient pour éprouvette stocké dans le râtelier pour éprouvette sont lues.
     
    4. Procédé de transport d'éprouvette selon la revendication 3,
    dans lequel le transport du râtelier pour éprouvette (101) est commandé sur la base des informations d'identification lues.
     
    5. Procédé de transport d'éprouvette selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4,
    dans lequel, après la distribution de l'éprouvette contenue dans le récipient pour éprouvette stocké dans le râtelier pour éprouvette (101) transporté jusqu'à la zone d'échantillonnage, le râtelier pour éprouvette est attendu jusqu'à ce qu'il soit déterminé si un réexamen est nécessaire ou non.
     
    6. Procédé de transport d'éprouvette selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5,
    dans lequel la voie de distribution (114, 121) est configurée de telle manière qu'un espace pour au moins un râtelier pour éprouvette (101) unique peut être garanti sur le côté aval de la zone d'échantillonnage (115, 122), l'espace étant utilisé pour transporter le râtelier pour éprouvette d'urgence depuis la voie de transport (104).
     
    7. Analyseur automatique configuré pour exécuter le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description