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Lab studies new steps in urine and anemia screening

August 2015—Despite the demonstrated value of implementing reflex testing algorithms to improve patient care and avert wasteful spending, the road from conceptual understanding to plan-in-action can be rocky. A pathologist at one academic medical center recently talked about his experience with reflex testing algorithms in the areas of urine screening and preoperative anemia screening. His story illustrates the barriers to change as well as the enviable outcomes that could potentially be achieved.

IOM report on diagnostic errors expected this fall

August 2015—The Institute of Medicine is expected to release in September a consensus study on diagnostic error in health care that will offer recommendations for policymakers, payers, medical institutions, physicians, and patients aimed at preventing harmful mistakes. This will come after nearly two years of studying the U.S. health system and reviewing the perspectives of stakeholders such as the CAP.

Twists and turns in biomarker exploration

August 2015—Forget the lone tree falling down, unnoticed and thus possibly soundless, in the forest. For pathologists and medical oncologists, the more meaningful philosophical question involves breast cancer biomarkers. If a biomarker looks promising in research, will its impact be felt in clinical practice?

Paths to validating next-gen sequencing assays

July 2015—As more clinical laboratories tread the unfamiliar ground of next-generation sequencing, they are faced with the age-old challenges of establishing validation and quality control processes. Two experts tackled the topic of molecular QC during a recent CAP TODAY webinar presented in cooperation with Horizon Diagnostics and available for viewing on demand …

For CKD, work is on to refine and find biomarkers

July 2015—Getting the upper hand on chronic kidney disease requires taking maximum advantageof existing CKD biomarker capabilities. It also means discovering new markers, though the trick is finding those that can expand treatment options. Some believe fibroblast growth factor-23 has the potential to fit that bill, with one researcher calling it “among the most exciting new targets in chronic kidney disease.”

IQCP worries? Help with what ends and begins

July 2015—Technically, it’s true: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new program, the Individualized Quality Control Plan, is a voluntary, alternative option that clinical laboratories can use to customize their QC plans according to test method, patient population, environment, and personnel competency.

Business analytics insight within easy reach

July 2015—It used to be that business analytic solutions came only from LIS or enterprise-wide vendors, accessing these solutions meant going through the IT department, and laboratories’ requests to join the business analytics party frequently fell to the bottom of the priority pile. Forget “used to be.” Now, says Hal Weiner of Weiner Consulting Services LLC, in Eugene, Ore., “new tools have been developed by third-party vendors to make it much easier for labs themselves to create their own dashboards, their own queries, and their own monitoring tools.” And interest in business analytics is high among health care executives.

In genetics, stay open to the unexpected

July 2015—When Uta Francke, MD, received the Association for Molecular Pathology Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics at the 2014 AMP meeting, she titled her lecture “Adventures in Disease Gene Identification and Characterization of Mutations.” Her title was appropriate for a research clinician who, during her 35-year career, while working on several major human genetic disease challenges, contributed in significant ways to our understanding of important genetic disease mechanisms and whose laboratory identified the gene for Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.

Evidence drives guideline on reducing interpretive error

July 2015—Secondary review of surgical pathology cases is a common, if not universal, practice in U.S. anatomic pathology departments. The evidence has shown that case reviews detect errors. But until now, one important thing has been missing: consensus on the actual standard of practice for such reviews. Anatomic pathology departments have lacked evidence-based guidelines on how and when to conduct reviews.

New lab, new efficiencies: doors open at Geisinger

July 2015—The last time Geisinger Medical Laboratories had a new facility, American women were still five years from getting the vote. Typhoid Mary had only recently ceased merrily showering her employers’ food with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. And the celebrity name on everyone’s lips was Charlie Chaplin. A view of the new laboratory building. “I think we have actually achieved the ideal in terms of efficiency,” says Dr. Schuerch (left), with Dr. Wilkerson.