“August 30, 2004 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

Film-maker Michael Moore is ready to turn his cameras on the American healthcare system. During a tour of the United Kingdom this summer, the controversial director declared that he wanted to use his cameras to intervene and save lives. Moore, basking in the attention generated by his Fahrenheit 9/11 film, wants to “embarrass” health insurance companies and hospitals into providing care for uninsured individuals. Given Moore’s reputation for playing loose with facts, any documentary he produces on healthcare in the United States will certainly be controversial.


In Austin, Texas, a new biotech company is developing lab-on-a-chip technology to perform, from a single drop of blood, a ten-minute CD4 count on HIV/AIDS patients. LabNow, Inc. uses an automated reader the size of a toaster to process assay- specific biochips. The nanotechnology which enables this process was invented at the University of Texas.


Once again, a study demonstrates how clothing worn by physicians in a hospital can become contaminated with pathogens. Earlier this year, physicians at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens tested for bacteria on 42 ties worn by physicians, physician assistants, and medical students working at the hospital. Of the tested ties, one in four held Staphylococcus aureus. One in eight ties contained hospital-acquired bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumonia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Acinetobacter baumannii. Researchers also tested 10 ties worn by security guards at the hospital. Only one of these ten ties tested positive for a pathogen.

ADD TO: Doctors’ Ties

At Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, Lawrence Brandt, M.D. said “My prediction is there will be a number of physicians who will stop wearing ties based upon this.” Brandt is Chief of Gastroenterology at the hospital and has studied how physicians’ attire affects their credibility with patients. In past years, studies have shown that stethoscopes, pens, and white coats can often harbor germs. “We did not find that the neckties carried what we considered to be the most serious bacteria,” observed James J. Rahal, M.D., a researcher involved in the study. “We were looking for the super bugs. We did not find them.” This study was reported at the spring meeting of the American Microbiology Association. By the way—bow ties are not exempted! A 1993 study of gynecologists and obstetricians found similarly high levels of bacterial contamination on both straight ties and bow ties.

Publication of THE DARK REPORT’S special two-part series on the trend of specialist physicians capturing anatomic pathology revenues caused quite a stir in both the urology and gastroenterology communities—and that’s not all! Copies reached certain elected officials in Congress and were studied with great interest. Expect more breaking news on this major topic.


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