Readers Respond

Sept. 1, 2009

Letters to the editor

Readers Respond

Training compensation or not?

Editor's note: Last month's column contained a question from MLO reader Debra E. Pless, MT(ASCP) BB, regarding “Transitioning medical laboratories demand flexibility” (MLO June 2009, pp. 40-41).

Her questions were: Are current employees who act as
trainers compensated differently than the others, or paid differently or
rewarded in other ways; or is training just considered part of the job

Response from Alton Sturtevant, PhD, laboratory director,
LabCorp, Birmingham, AL:
In general, training others is a part of the job, where all parties benefit through giving and receiving. Good trainers can be rewarded in a variety of ways. If your facility allows for your better performers (i.e., top 5%) to be rewarded with salary increases, then give them a larger annual raise.

Other facilities perform personnel evaluations using
written performance-based standards to categorize employees into “meets,”
“exceeds,” or “does not meet” standards.

Make training part of the annual evaluation process, and
reward those who excel. Many facilities do not allow a distinction in annual
salary increases. In this case, give preferential treatment in consideration
for promotions, plum assignments, and trips to meetings or training sessions
to employees who go above and beyond in helping the facility by developing

Via the lab, recognize their accomplishments through bulletin board postings and/or letters to administration copied to HR files. Enhance this by trying to ensure the institution also recognizes them for giving back to their profession.

Response from Marti K. Bailey, MT(ASCP), CPC, work unit
leader, Pathology, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA:
Our trainers are not compensated differently. The trainers are staff
who enjoy training and are good at it.

Response from Lawrence J. Crolla, PhD, consulting clinical chemist, Department of Pathology and Respiratory Care, Alexian Brothers Hospital, Elk Grove Village, IL; West Suburban Medical Center, Oak Park, IL; and Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, IL: We do not pay any premium for folks who train new hires. The only exception would be if certain technical skills needed to be learned, then a special job category and description would be created for a trainer. This person is expected to maintain an additional skill set and is paid accordingly. An example is a phlebotomy trainer.
Typographical error?

I think there may be a rather strange typographical error
in Dr. Min Xu's response to the letter to the editor — “Policy without
complaints” (July 2009, p. 7) — about the flagging on Sysmex XE-2100
analyzer. Dr. Xu's statement that the emergency department uses a
band-to-“Europhile” ratio should probably read band-to-“neutrophil” ratio.”

Our labs also use Sysmex analyzers, and we now report
form the XE2100 the IG-immature granulocyte fraction at our main campus.
Other satellite locations using other Sysmex analyzers still do a slide scan
looking for >15% bands — if found, a manual differential is performed.

—Mary Perll, MT(ASCP)
Lead Technologist

Children's Mercy South
Overland Park, KS

Dr. Xu's response: I just found out the word was
changed by the “spell check” on my e-mail. It does not recognize “neutrophil”
and changed it to “Europhile.”

Editor's note: We are even sorrier for the
mistake, as we neglected to contact Dr. Xu before press time for a
clarification on this puzzling word.

ASCP acronym's real meaning

I just finished reading the July 2009 issue of MLO
and, as always, found the articles interesting and relevant. I also enjoyed
the “From the editor” section and have valued the comments made by Carren
Bersch (as well as the previous guest editors). I noticed in both Ms.
Bersch's column (p. 4) and the “Flow cytometry: 12 tools of the trade” on
pp. 38-39, an error with the correct name that “ASCP” represents. “ASCP” is
the acronym for the American Society for Clinical Pathology. This may seem a
minor distinction from the previous
name of this professional organization (American Society of Clinical
Pathologists); but as one of the nearly 130,000 members of this society
(many of whom are not pathologists), I think it is important to
recognize the significance of the name change. The name of the society
was changed at the ASCP Annual Business Meeting in October 2001 by a
vote of membership and became effective January 1, 2002. This new name
reflects the diversity of ASCP membership, recognizes all the
professionals who work in clinical laboratories, and promotes the team
effort required to offer quality laboratory services in patient
diagnosis and management.

—Karen A. Brown, MS, MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA)

Professor and Associate Program Director

Medical Laboratory Science

Department of Pathology

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Editor's note: Old habits die hard! We still
receive references for “NCCLS” (now known as “CLSI”) and for “JCAHO”
(now known as “The Joint Commission”). We are posting a list of the
latest organizational acronyms to assure that we do not risk using
incorrect acronyms again. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

A missing June Trends commentary

Editor's note: In MLO's June 2009 issue, p. 44, Trends in microbiology featured
six companies with comments on “what's hot” in microbiology. An
important person was left out of that line-up, and we apologize for not
having Dr. Rambach's photo and statement available at that time for our
readers. Here is his look at microbiology today:

Trends in microbiology

New culture media

The use of chromogenic culture media for the
detection of bacteria is increasing steadily despite the introduction of
other (often molecular-biology-based) techniques. The first chromogenic
culture media (for detection of E coli) was invented and patented
by me in 1979 (30 years ago). The introduction of this medium triggered
a revolution in microbial diagnosis and was driven by the introduction
of a whole range of media for the detection of key clinical and
food-borne pathogens. This continuous development of chromogenic
technology gave rise in 2002 to a chromogenic MRSA-detection medium,
which was a true revolution in terms of detection performance and
simplicity. This medium led to such significant reductions in both the
response time and laboratory workload that it allowed for wide-scale
patient screening — absolutely necessary but also impractical using the
previous methods. The development of new media is a constant process,
and the latest products will provide chromogenic media to facilitate the
detection of multidrug resistant bacteria such as VRE, ESBL, KPC, and
Acinetobacter baumanii

—Alain Rambach, PhD

CHROMagar Microbiology

Paris, France

Maker of CHROMagar MRSA,

CHROMagar StrepB, and


Photo 115879330 © Karenr |
Photo 124723736 © Steveheap |
Photo 129549884 © Katarzyna Bialasiewicz |
Photo 159136554 © Alberto Masnovo |