ASCLS eNewsBytes
Dec. 27, 2011

Most wasteful treatments, procedures in primary care
Medscape Medical News (May 23, 2011)
A study commissioned by a reform-minded medical society has come up with specialty-specific lists of procedures in primary care that do little if anything to improve outcomes but excel at wasting limited healthcare dollars. A prime example is routinely ordering diagnostic imaging for patients with low back pain — but with no warning flags, such as severe or progressive neurologic deficits — within the first six weeks.More

ASCLS and CLMA to merge?
ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals (Aug. 25, 2011)
The Boards of Directors of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) are excited to announce their mutual support for the concept of merging the two organizations. Both boards are entering into a period of final due diligence, outlined in further detail below. Members of both organizations were notified by their respective boards in March, 2011 of the formation of the CLMA/ASCLS Strategic Alliance (CASA) task force. The 10 member task force, five from ASCLS and five from CLMA, studied how such a combined organization might operate — including areas such as (but not limited to) programs, services, governance, culture, and mission. More

Bloodstream pathogens
Clinical Laboratory News (May 2011 issue)
Every year in the U. S., 350,000 patients acquire bloodstream infections while in the hospital, resulting in more than 90,000 deaths and significant costs to the healthcare system. Rapidly detecting and identifying the infectious pathogens is therefore critical for favorable patient outcomes. However, blood culture, the gold standard for diagnosis of bloodstream infections, often takes several days. Consequently, clinicians typically treat suspected bloodstream infections with broad-spectrum antibiotics while waiting for the patient's blood culture results, a practice that, while necessary, has other undesirable effects.More

DNA of 50 breast cancer patients decoded
ScienceDaily (April 2, 2011)
In the single largest cancer genomics investigation reported to date, scientists have sequenced the whole genomes of tumors from 50 breast cancer patients and compared them to the matched DNA of the same patients' healthy cells. This comparison allowed researchers to find mutations that only occurred in the cancer cells. They uncovered incredible complexity in the cancer genomes, but also got a glimpse of new routes toward personalized medicine. The work was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting 2011.More

Bad News for clinical pathology laboratory workers: Salaries not keeping pace with cost of living increases
DarkDaily (April 13, 2011)
Salaries and compensation paid to medical technologists and other skilled clinical laboratory professionals are not keeping pace with yearly increases in the cost of living. This is distressing news for every pathologist and clinical laboratory manager concerned about the constantly growing shortage of MTs and Clinical Laboratory Scientists to staff the nation's medical laboratories. For example, one recent national salary survey determined that 24 percent of laboratorians received no salary increase in 2010. More

hs-CRP: What is proven and unproven?
Medscape Genomic Medicine (May 19, 2011)
A recent large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies from 15 cohort studies comprising 66,185 subjects and a replication sample of 16,540 subjects identified 18 gene loci associated with C-reactive protein levels. These 18 gene loci were mostly associated with immune response and metabolic regulatory pathways involved in the regulation of chronic inflammation. The authors developed a genetic risk score that explains about 5 percent of the variation in CRP levels, showing that genetic factors are important in determining CRP levels.More

Privacy in the era of EHRs — What's the lab's responsibility?
Clinical Laboratory News (March 2011 issue)
The federal government, as well as many in healthcare, have touted the move to electronic health records (EHR) as key to boosting more coordinated and efficient care. Starting this year, physicians and hospitals can begin cashing in on government incentives for deploying EHRs, and regulators have made it clear that lab data is a critical component. But while both consumer advocates and regulators have ramped up pressure on providers to maintain the privacy and security of patient health information, at the same time EHRs will ostensibly allow more sharing of information, potentially pulling labs and other providers in two directions.More

CDC: Tick-borne parasite infecting blood supply
Reuters (Sept. 5, 2011)
A tick-borne infection known as Babesiosis, which can cause severe disease and even death, is becoming a growing threat to the U.S. blood supply, government researchers said. There are currently no diagnostic tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can detect the infection before people donate blood. More

Fate of last smallpox virus stocks divides WHO
Reuters Africa (May 20, 2011)
Health ministers are deeply divided over setting a date to destroy the world's remaining known stocks of live smallpox virus, stored in Russia and the United States, diplomatic sources said. The two powers say that more research is needed into safer vaccines against the deadly disease eradicated more than 30 years ago. They also seek guarantees that all stocks have been destroyed or transferred to their two official repositories due to fears that the virus could be used as a biological weapon. More

Medical laboratory technologists a U.S. News & World Report 'Best Career' for 2011
DarkDaily (Jan. 5, 2011)
Medical technologists and clinical laboratory scientists were declared among "The 50 Best Careers of 2011" by U.S. News & World Report in its annual survey of high-demand careers. Editors at the respected news magazine declared "clinical lab technicians and technologists" to be the "unsung heroes of the healthcare industry."More