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    www.mlo-online.com January 2011     
Programmable Temperature controlled FISH Processing System

The StatSpin Thermobrite® automates the denaturation and hybridization steps in slide-based fluorescent in situ hybridization (F)ISH assays and reduces hands-on time while ensuring precision and +/- 1° accuracy.
Learn more: http://www.statspin.com/products_us/Thermobrite.php

Molecular detection of toxigenic C difficile: Toxin A or B gene?
Pseudoscience in the clinical laboratory

Are you determined to begin your bachelor’s degree in 2011?
If you’ve decided to go back to school in 2011, UC’s online bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science is the ideal program to help you achieve your goal. With no required campus visits, our NAACLS accredited degree is designed for working CLT/MLTs like you who want to become a MLS/CLS/MT.
Download your free brochure today!

Enter the MLO Medical Laboratory of the Year contest
This award coincides with National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (April 24-30, 2011) and allows medical laboratories nationwide to demonstrate their contributions to quality patient care. Nominations for the MLO Medical Laboratory of the Year Award 2011 will be accepted only from employees of the laboratory system, and utilizers of the laboratory's services, and its non-vendor affiliates. This includes by hospital administrators, laboratory personnel, nursing staff, and physicians. The winner and two runners-up will be featured in the April 2011 issue of Medical Laboratory Observer. Deadline for nominations/submissions is 12:01 a.m., Feb. 1, 2011. Enter online at www.mlo-online.com/LabOfTheYear/Default.aspx.

Sign up to win an Executive War College Scholarship
This award allows medical laboratories' individuals to demonstrate their interest in learning. The deadline for nominations/submissions is 12:01 a.m., Feb. 1, 2011. Individuals will be judged on measurable achievements in each of 10 areas. One winner will receive a scholarship to attend Executive War College (EWC) May 3-4, 2011, in New Orleans. Learn more about EWC at www.executivewarcollege.com. Enter the contest online at http://www.executivewarcollege.com/register.htm.

More ways to improve efficiency
At Beckman Coulter, we understand the challenges of the lab and want to be your trusted partner. Learn how our customers' labs run better because we're working together. Visit http://beckmancoultermore.com/

NEW! Congratulations to winner of MLO survey prize
A long-time MLO reader, Sheila Galliart, Blood Bank Supervisor at the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City participated in a recent survey regarding advertisements that appear in MLO and won a $100 gift card. Congratulations!

Document Control, Incident Tracking, Training Records, Lean Six Sigma, management made easy.
Our software provides simple, easy to use, flexible tools to manage your Quality Management system. All aspects of our software can be configured by the end users with no IT involvement. Action item notifications ensure assigned tasks are completed on time. Reduce the frustration and cost of running your QMS. Email sales@interaxgrp.com or visit www.interaxgrp.com

NEW! LifeScan to quit hospital POC blood-glucose testing
LifeScan announced on Jan. 14 that the company plans to exit the hospital point-of-care blood-glucose testing market in the United States and Canada. Effective March 31, 2013, the SureStep brand of hospital meters and test strips will no longer be available or supported, according to a company representative. The company is offering customers the option to amend their current agreements to support the transition to another glucose-testing system. LifeScan’s consumer glucose-monitoring products are not impacted by this announcement and will continue to be available. For more information, visit http://lifescan.com/professionals.

Stand Out From the Crowd!

How well do your MRSA colonies STAND OUT?
Visit www.biomerieux-usa.com and see for yourself
chromIDTM MRSA for the rapid & reliable screening of MRSA

LabDAQ Laboratory Information System…
Build On Your Lab’s Success

Sponsored by Antek
Readers often remark that they love to “clip” various items from the print pages of MLO. And because MLO covers a myriad of laboratory-related topics, we share a continuing Labline feature: Hot Clips. Click on the highlighted words to discover various MLO archival properties concerning laboratory information systems and software.

  • How can an LIS help streamline and standardize quality management for a lab facility today — recognizing that standardized reporting formats for IOM data are continuing to evolve? That is the question that Ginger Wooster answered in her article, “An LIS supports quality initiatives” in April 2008.
  • To gain a perspective on how important the LIS and software is to the medical-laboratory marketplace worldwide, “Lab software: the global scene”, published in August 2009, introduced three regional representatives of Data Innovations who bring solutions to customers from Belgium to Argentina to China!
  • We are “connected” in more ways than one. Meet a company that is based overseas but brought its enthusiasm to America. “Find out about NetLIMS in its October 2009 interview in “International fast track to global success wielded by small organization with big dreams.”
  • It looks like alphabet soup, but the December 2009 headline says it all “Lab’s HIE solution connects LIS to EMR and HIS.”
  • If you are interested in the future of technology in the lab, read “Transforming the LIS,” by Richard R. Rogoski from February 2010. Learn how the LIS is being upgraded to accommodate molecular, genetic, and anatomic pathology testing, which require more data, as well as large digital images, slides, and diagrams.
  • In April 2010, Gina Coughlin submitted “The greener side of middleware.” She explains today’s green economy mantra is reduce, reuse, recycle. One of the emerging gaps for which labs are profiting with middleware is archiving results, including images, for regulatory compliance. Some middleware systems are able to receive and store these images, along with the results and audit logs for the patient results, for years.
  • In Mitchell Fry’s “Meaningful connections: Linking the LIS to EMR systems” from December 2010, he explains the financial incentives introduced by the HITECH Act mean that hospitals and physician practices are transitioning to electronic medical record (EMR) systems, which brings new challenges for labs. In order to meet the legislation’s meaningful-use requirements, physicians must interface their EMR apps with their lab-service providers’ LIS for electronic lab-test ordering and results reporting, as well as for public-health reporting.
  • “Integrated health record can show meaningful use” by Ravi Sharma from December 2010 explains that while several current EHR systems may not certify as EHR technology under “meaningful use” due to limitations of the client-server architecture, a new type of application — an “integrated health record” (IHR) — may include all components necessary to demonstrate meaningful use.

Readers may want to scan MLO’s archives for more information on LIS and SOFTWARE because any tips published might help your laboratory learn just what it needs to upgrade to the next level.

If there is a subject you would like to see in “HOT CLIPS,” just visit the CONTACT US section of our website, and let us know!

NEW! Discuss fetal lung maturity testing options
Abbott Laboratories recently announced that it was ending production of its widely used fetal lung maturity test, the TDx FLM II, due to the retirement of their TDx and TDxFLx instrument platforms. Join the AACC Academy in an online discussion of the impact of this change on the obstetrical and clinical laboratory community by going to the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry (NACB) blog. Every Tuesday, NACB will feature scientists who will put forward questions and positions for debate and exploration. This free program is intended to make possible the thoughtful and timely exchange of ideas among scientists worldwide. See recent discussions on topics such as fetal lung maturity testing options at www.aacc.org/resourcecenters/AACCBlogs/NACBBlog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=7.

NEW! Young innovators in HIV research, prevention, or policy
The 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference will highlight the work of young innovators (30 years of age or younger) in HIV research, prevention, or policy based on the quality of abstracts submitted to the conference. Individuals selected as innovators in research or program/policy will be invited to present at the conference and will have all of their expenses covered. The deadline for abstract submission is Feb. 4, 2011. Click here for more information.

NEW! Cellular analysis e-catalog now available
The Beckman Coulter 2011 cellular analysis e-catalog, combined with the resources on www.coulterflow.com, provides a comprehensive, adaptable, and eco-friendly resource that simplifies the reagent and instrument selection process. Interactive features include customized print-on-demand features, and user-friendly search and ordering capabilities. Go to www.coulterflow.com/CommerceProcessor/Pages/Products/Catalog.aspx.

NEW! February webinars from A2LA and WorkPlace Training
A2LA, in partnership with WorkPlace Training, is offering webinars for members and accredited organizations. The February schedule includes:
Feb 22 - Understanding ANSI/NCSLI Z540.3 (3.0 hours);
Feb 23 - Interpreting Equipment Specifications (2.0 hours);
Feb 24 - Calibration Interval Analysis (3.0 hours); and
Feb 25 - Introduction to Measurement Uncertainty (2.0 hours).
To register call 612-308-2202 or e-mail info@wptraining.com

NEW! Personalized education for professional development
Healthcare professionals, guided by their own instructional Avatar, can plan a variety of product-specific, professional development, and job-relevant courses. Personalized Education Plan (PEP) is a competency-based clinical-laboratory education system that offers customized education on general laboratory topics and disease-state management with interactive training, hands-on practice, and assessment. Online education is accessible and convenient for all shifts and staff levels, ensuring all staff members receive consistent education regardless of shift, location, or tenure. To learn more about PEP, visit Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics at www.siemens.com/PEP.

January is Thyroid-Awareness Month
Nitrates from a surprising source may be increasing thyroid cancer rates in women, according to a recent report from a group of researchers from the National Cancer Institute, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic. The authors note that thyroid-cancer diagnoses increased at an annual rate of 6% per year during the period 1997 to 2003. Thyroid cancer is now in the top 10 for cancers most common in women. Read more here.

CMS delays signature requirement
On Dec. 21, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is delaying implementation of a policy requiring a physician’s signature on clinical lab service requisitions. The rule — part of the Final Medicare Physician Fee — was due to begin on Jan. 1, 2011, but CMS will delay enforcement of the rule requiring physician signatures on all paper requisitions for Medicare patients for at least 90 days. The announcement states: “CMS will focus in the first calendar quarter of 2011 on developing educational and outreach materials to educate those affected by this policy. As they become available, we will post this information on our website and use the other channels we have to communicate with providers to ensure this information is widely distributed. Once our first quarter of 2011 educational campaign is fully underway, CMS will expect requisitions to be signed.” Visit www.cms.gov/ClinicalLabFeeSched.

AHRQ publishes tools for hospital-preparedness exercises
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released three documents with resources to help hospitals prepare for a health emergency. The first document, “Hospital Preparedness Exercises Atlas of Resources and Tools,” is designed to give emergency planners tools to help them plan for, design, develop, conduct, evaluate, and improve hospital-preparedness exercises. The tools and resources in the document, the authors write, also can help healthcare institutions meet federal-funding requirements and accreditation standards. The AHRQ also released a guidebook and handbook to accompany the preparedness atlas. Visit the AHRQ hospital preparedness resources page.

Kentucky reports sharp rise in pertussis cases
The Kentucky Department of Public Health is urging the state’s residents to ensure that children receive their recommended pertussis vaccines and that people ages 11 to 64, especially those who have contact with children younger than 1 year old, get a pertussis booster, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on Dec. 9. The plea for pertussis vaccination comes amid a steep rise this year in pertussis cases. So far this year, it has received reports of 250 cases, up from 47 in 2007.

Got a management problem?
Send us your most puzzling problems on management, from dealing with budget cuts to cranky employees or bosses. Contact our Management Q&A editor, Anne Pontius, at manqa@mlo-online.com.

Test shows promise for early TS diagnosis
A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published online Dec. 8 has demonstrated a novel and accurate test for early diagnosis of Turner syndrome (TS). Turner syndrome affects one in 1,500 to 2,000 female live births. TS is the most common genetic problem affecting girls with short stature. Average adult height in untreated girls with TS is 4 feet, 8 inches, yet with early diagnosis and initiation of growth hormone therapy, normal or near-normal adult stature can be achieved. Currently, the majority of girls with TS go unrecognized until after 10 years of age. This new study suggests a new way to diagnose TS to help prevent delayed recognition, and DNA for the test can be extracted from cheek swabs or from newborn-screening blood spots that are routinely collected, according to the study’s authors.

Model of red-blood cells’ life cycle predicts anemia risk
A physician-researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and a mathematician from Harvard University have developed a mathematical model reflecting how red-blood cells change in size and hemoglobin content during their four-month lifespan. The study describes a way to predict who is likely to become anemic before they actually do, and it is based on tests routinely performed in hospitals, the researchers say. Read more here.

Researchers develop method to test tiny amounts of blood
University of Colorado researchers are using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) technology to develop a method that would allow for the testing for the presence of chemicals in miniscule amounts of dried blood. The method is expected to improve blood testing in infants and, in the future, to be used for diagnosis of diseases such as HIV and TB. Researchers say the LC-MS/MS technique also could be used to screen athletes for performance-enhancing drugs — requiring only a single drop of blood taken under direct observation, avoiding the privacy issues involved with urine testing. The researchers are developing a panel to screen blood for up to 200 drugs. Read more here.

WHO endorses new rapid TB test
The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed a new rapid test for tuberculosis (TB), which could revolutionize TB care and control by providing an accurate diagnosis for many patients in about 100 minutes, compared to current tests (smear microscopy) that can take several months. WHO’s endorsement of the rapid test, which is a fully automated nucleic-acid amplification test (NAAT), follows 18 months of rigorous assessment of its field effectiveness in the early diagnosis of TB, as well as multidrug-resistant TB and TB complicated by HIV infection. The Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics has worked with test manufacturer Cepheid to offer preferential pricing for low- and middle-income countries where TB is endemic, with additional reduction in price once there is significant volume of demand. The current price for each Xpert MTB/RIF test cartridge will now be $16.86 (75% less than market price). Once 1.7 million tests are ordered, the price will be reduced to about $14 per test — at that point, the price for the rapid test will be on par with pricing for microscopy. Calculations show if volume for test cartridges grows to 3.5 million, the price could fall to $10.70.

Treating HIV super-carriers could stem AIDS pandemic
One in four people infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are hyperinfectious “super-carriers,” researchers at Harvard University say. Targeting these individuals for treatment could help to stem the AIDS pandemic in the worst-affected parts of the world. The scientists believe that one of the reasons sub-Saharan Africa is greatly affected by AIDS is because HIV-1C, the prevalent strain of HIV in the region, causes infected people to go through a prolonged period of high infectivity. These people have been called “hypertransmitters.” A clinical trial, due to start in Botswana in 2011, will aim to identify hypertransmitters as soon as possible after infection and treat them with antiretroviral drugs to reduce their ability to transmit the virus. Read more here.

Study maps pandemic Twitter traffic
Toronto researchers who analyzed the volume and content of Twitter traffic during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic found that news and information were the most common topics and that patterns varied over the course of the pandemic. Using both automated and manual systems, the researchers reviewed a random sample of about 5,400 tweets from more than 2 million that appeared between May 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. They found that wording evolved from “swine flu” to the preferred “H1N1” terminology and public-health events such as the WHO’s pandemic declaration and major news stories prompted spikes in tweets. Information on protective behaviors peaked as the outbreak threat increased and reports of personal experiences with the flu rose during the two pandemic waves. The investigators concluded that social media such as Twitter are useful for gauging knowledge during public-health events. Read more in the Nov. 29 issue of PLoS One.

Test your blood sugar knowledge
Find out how much you know about blood sugar and the differences between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia with a quiz and informative fact sheets offered by Blood Sugar Basics, a program developed by the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) to provide useful information about blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. Visit the Blood Sugar Basics website here.

Two awards for SCC Soft Computer
SCC Soft Computer (SCC) received two 2010 ASTD/ISPI OPAL Awards — for excellence in team success and excellence in customer satisfaction. ASTD/ISPI is a partnership between the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). The Outstanding Performance and Learning Awards (OPAL) Awards are sponsored by Tampa Bay ISPI and Suncoast ASTD and recognize the best and brightest Learning and Performance professionals in the Tampa Bay, FL, area. Read more here.

Got a testing problem?
Send us your most vexing problems on test methods, validation, reporting procedures, ornery instruments, and other technical questions. Contact our TIPS editor, Brad Karon, MD, PhD, at tips@mlo-online.com.

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Haiti cholera strain matches bacteria from South Asia
Researchers have determined that the strain of cholera in Haiti matches bacterial samples from South Asia, and have concluded that the cholera bacterial strain introduced into Haiti probably came from an infected human, contaminated food, or other item. In the weeks since cases were first confirmed in the Artibonite province of Haiti on Oct. 19, the disease has reached all 10 of Haiti’s provinces and has spread to the Dominican Republic. To identify the probable origin of the cholera strain in Haiti, scientists used a third-generation, single-molecule DNA sequencing method developed by Pacific Biosciences. Learn more here.

TB cases spike in Canada’s Nunavut territory
Health officials in Canada’s Arctic Nunavut territory are fighting a rise in TB cases, 98 of which have been confirmed for 2010, the most in the territory’s 11-year-history, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail reported Dec. 13. The area’s TB rate is 62 times higher than Canada’s national average. Nunavut, hit hard by the disease in the 1950s, has a high percentage of middle-aged and older residents who have latent infections from inadequately treated past disease and poor living conditions provide fertile ground for such a TB outbreak, according to an aboriginal-disease expert at the University of Manitoba. The Nunavut government is urging people to complete their antibiotic treatment by offering incentives of fast food, and Health Canada — which normally leaves TB control efforts up to the provinces and territories — has spent $9.6 million fighting the disease in the past year. Read more here.

U.K. sees rise in 2009 H1N1 activity
The United Kingdom Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed that influenza H1N1, the viral strain that caused the swine-flu pandemic last year, is in circulation again this winter. A recent increase in 2009 H1N1 and influenza B circulation in the U.K. has triggered a public-health warning for pregnant women and other groups at high risk for flu complications to be immunized. The HPA has received reports of a rise the number in flu cases as well as hospitalized patients and school outbreaks. According to a Dec. 11 Reuters report, the HPA also has received reports of 10 flu deaths.

Got a legal issue?
Robert E. Mazer, along with his legal team from Ober|Kaler, addresses a variety of topics that concern clinical labs each month in "Liability and the lab."

How to boost your lab’s clinical and financial performance
Learn the essentials of ISO 15189 and how it can propel the laboratory-testing organization to higher levels of quality and operational excellence during this LIVE event on Jan. 20. This program “The A-to-Z of ISO 15189: How to Boost Your Lab’s Clinical and Financial Performance” from The Dark Report and Dark Daily features the three leading ISO 15189 accrediting bodies in North America. Each organization offers a unique perspective and resources that will help labs decide how to pursue ISO 15189 accreditation. Learn more at www.darkdaily.com/audio-conferences/the-a-to-z-of-iso-15189-how-to-boost-your-labs-clinical-and-financial-performance.


Students awarded API scholarships
Six $2,000 scholarships for students studying in the field of medical-laboratory science have been awarded by the American Proficiency Institute (API): Erin Arnst from St. John Providence School of Technology; Christopher Gorter from Oregon Institute of Technology; Vanna Gassmann from Austin Peay State University; Heather Nolan from Parkview Medical Center School of Medical Technology; Thierrie Patterson from Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Matthew Welz from St. Louis University.

SLAS academic travel awards
The Association for Laboratory Automation, now officially the Laboratory Automation Section of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS), has selected 51 up-and-coming scientists and engineers to attend and present at LabAutomation2011, Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, at the Palm Springs (CA) Convention Center. To see a list of the winners, visit http://www.slas.org/LA11/travelawardwinners.cfm.

APHL and CLSI educational series available
The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) teleconference series is available at reduced rates when purchased as a series. The current series listing is available at www.aphl.org/clsi. Based on current CLSI documents, the programs are intended to help pathologists, managers, supervisors, and laboratory professionals learn how to optimize practices and processes in their laboratories. The 2011 course flyer is available for download at http://www.aphl.org/courses/Documents/2011/2011CLSITeleconfJanJune.pdf.


The 2011 MLO Media Handbook is now online at www.mlo-online.com.

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Unless, of course, those tests come back positive.”
—Jay Leno

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