HOW MUCH DO YOU TRUST THE NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER MEDIA you read to give you the right story, with the right analysis? If you are like me, you are regularly disappointed that the nation’s journalists are too quick to report the obvious—while often missing the important nuances that bring out the true dimensions of the story being reported.
In recent months, The New York Times did a detailed story about the “failings” of molecular test technology to provide reliable results to guide clinicians at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center as they worked to identify a suspected outbreak of Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough). As a result, the reported outbreak of Bordetella pertussis wasn’t an outbreak at all, said The New York Times. When we talked to the principals involved at Dartmouth’s laboratory, we learned that the problem had nothing to do with placing too much faith in molecular testing. (See pages 6-8 in this issue.)
The molecular tests for pertussis performed within specifications, a situation understandable to any lab professional. Some test results appeared to be positive, but many more were equivocal. Experts suggest retesting to confirm equivocal results. But since the medical center believed it was dealing with an outbreak, waiting for confirmatory testing was not the right clinical strategy. That didn’t stop the newspaper from raising questions about the entire field of molecular testing, a diagnostic technology that has produced significant value for more than a decade.
I offer you this example of how the reporter for The New York Times did a story that covered the obvious points, but missed the real story behind the story. THE DARK REPORT’S coverage of this situation, published in this and a previous issue, provides our clients and long-time readers with the analysis of what really happened, and the important laboratory management lessons learned during a suspected outbreak of pertussis that saw as many 1,000 healthcare workers tested and more than 4,500 employees of the medical center given the acellular pertussis vaccine. (See TDR, February 19, 2007.)
The point is that news and trends are not always what they appear to be. Therefore, pathologists and lab directors need a reliable and trusted source for information. They need one that’s willing to go beyond the obvious headline and report the story behind the story. We believe that’s why they rely on THE DARK REPORT and consider it to be a reliable source of useful business intelligence.