News/ Trends/ Analysis
NLM promotes standardization of newborn-screening
data. The National Library of Medicine (NLM)
has published a Newborn Screening Coding and Terminology Guide (http://newbornscreeningcodes.nlm.nih.gov)
in order to promote efficient electronic exchange of standard
newborn-screening data and enable more effective use of
newborn-screening test results in assessing child health.
Newborn-screening test results can vary among states in the ways tests
are conducted and results recorded.
The website is designed to help states move toward
the use of common terminology and coding standards, a key step in
enabling electronic exchange of laboratory-test information. The site
covers more than 100 conditions, and lists the terminologies and codes
used for each. It also identifies the tests that may be used in
screening for each condition.
NAT gaining importance in infectious-disease testing.
The growing number of drug-resistant bacterial infections like
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) may be the
most important justification for nucleic-acid-based tests (NAT),
according to the report “Infectious Disease Diagnostic Markets” from
Kalorama Information, provider of healthcare market research. The needs
of infectious-disease testing are such that culture-based assays and
immunoassays are becoming increasingly inadequate, the report indicates,
partly due to drug-resistant infections.
NAT testing can be put to many uses, Kalorama
Information's publisher says, but what will get it into more labs is its
role in determining the genetic differences that make a bacterial strain
such as MRSA with results in two to four hours. More information is
available at www.kaloramainformation.com.
Diagnostic tests critical to healthcare reform goals.
A report from the Lewin Group, a healthcare-policy research firm, finds
that screening and diagnostic laboratory tests are central to achieving
some of the most important goals of healthcare reform. According to the
report, tests for conditions such as diabetes, cervical cancer, and
drug-resistant infections are enabling important strides in early
detection and diagnosis. The net result is often better health outcomes
for patients, as well as economic efficiencies for the healthcare
system. The report addresses the cost and clinical implications of lab
testing by focusing on four areas: rapid diagnostic tests for
hospital-acquired MRSA infections, KRAS genetic testing, HbA1c
blood-glucose testing, and HPV DNA testing for cervical cancer. The full
report is available at www.labresultsforlife.org and
Questions arise over blood's shelf life.
A U.S. study found that transfusing trauma patients with blood stored
for more than 28 days increased the death rates from 14% to 27%, reports
the Los Angeles Times. Red blood cells stored longer than 28 days
significantly increased patients' risk of developing fatal deep vein
thrombosis or multiple-organ failure, a team of pediatric intensive-care
specialists report in the journal Critical Care. The study raises
concerns about rules governing the use of about 29 million units of
blood transfused every year in the United States. The American Red Cross
says donated blood has a shelf life of 42 days. Two earlier studies
found that transfusions of longer-stored blood resulted in poorer
outcomes. Patients administered blood stored longer than four weeks were
three times as likely to acquire an infection in the hospital as those
who got fresher blood.
Bacterial co-infections common in fatal cases of flu.
Many people who have died from 2009 H1N1 influenza in the United States
had co-infections with a common bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae,
or pneumococcus) which likely contributed to their deaths, according to
the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The CDC report
includes an analysis of specimens taken from 77 fatal cases of 2009
H1N1. Bacterial co-infections, including some caused by Streptococcus
pneumonia, were noted in about a third of those cases. The entire
MMWR report can be found at www.cdc.gov/mmwr.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports secondary
bacterial infections have been found in approximately 30% of fatal
cases. Respiratory failure and refractory shock have been the most
common causes of death.
Nov. 19-22. The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) 2009 annual meeting at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL, will cover the major areas of clinical molecular diagnostics: hematopathology, infectious diseases, inherited genetic diseases, solid tumors, and technical topics. Visit
Dec. 5-8. The American Society of Hematology's 51st annual meeting at the Ernest
N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, offers dozens of sessions
covering the breadth of hematology, including nanotechnology,
complementary medicine, emergency preparedness, and the impact of
healthcare disparities on patient outcomes based on factors such as
race, socioeconomic status, geography, and age. See more at
Dec. 7-9. The second annual Laboratory Sales and Marketing 2009 Conference will take place at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa in Chandler, AZ. Learn to compete with the diagnostic testing giants' latest aggressive moves into the clinical lab market, and to respond to the new CLIA lab-driven business models that are taking the in vitro diagnostics market by storm. Visit
Jan. 23-27, 2010. The Association for Laboratory Automation's LabAutomation2010, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA, will focus on the growing field of laboratory automation. Some 5,000 laboratory automation scientists and business leaders from around the globe will come together to network and benefit from leading education, information, strategies, and technologies. For information about ALA, its structure and member benefits, go to
Jan. 29-30, 2010. The 17th
Annual First Coast Infectious Disease/Clinical Microbiology Symposium
will be held at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, St.
Augustine, FL. Go to www.firstcoastidcm.com .
On demand: “Weathering the Storm: Surviving and Succeeding in Today's Economy,” part of an AACC Executive Thought Leadership Series supported exclusively by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics contains the audio and PowerPoint presentation in a synchronized format. This webinar is now available at no charge at
On demand: “Demystifying Clinical Use of Cardiac Markers: Troponin and Natriuretic Peptides” addresses the variety of factors that affect the clinical utility of troponin and natriuretic peptides. Learn how these variables affect tests and know how best to use them clinically. Two sessions include “Demystifying Troponin” and “Demystifying Natriuretic Peptides.” Links to free programs are at
Nov. 18, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET. “Reimbursement Update 2010” informs you how to maximize reimbursement and maintain laboratory compliance and how congressional actions may affect the clinical laboratory community. Sign up at
Dec. 16, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET. “The Lab's Critical Role in Managing Hospital-Acquired Infections” Learn what hospital labs are doing to meet Joint Commission requirements related to preventing healthcare-associated infections related to multidrug resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and C diff, and how new molecular testing technologies are helping healthcare organizations find these infections more quickly. Register at
Dec. 16, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET. “CLIA Blood Banking Personnel Requirements” will include discussions on testing regulated by CLIA, and the personnel requirements to perform these tests in the blood center or transfusion service. Current hot topics and the regulations will also be addressed. Visit
December 5-8, 2009 New Orleans
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) welcomes laboratory scientists to this vibrant, historic city for its 51st annual meeting. This event offers invaluable benefits; main among those are growing professionally through education and networking: ASH's Education and Scientific Program keeps you up to date on the latest research, therapies, and tools you need to succeed — and connects you with colleagues, as well as leaders in the field to learn and share ideas. Come to New Orleans and enjoy famed cuisine, admire distinctive architecture, and soak up a soulful music scene.