“August 5, 2002 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Malpractice insurance has become a major concern in a growing number of states. Carriers are withdrawing from some markets and premium increases are significant. Pathologists in Florida tell THE DARK REPORT that they are awaiting quotes for next year, but that insurance brokers have told them to expect premiums to double, from around $15-$17,000 per year per pathologist to over $30,000 per year per pathologist.


Competition in the market for liquid prep Pap smear products continues to be intense. Cytyc Corporation, maker of ThinPrep® test, reported revenues of $43.2 million for second quarter, compared to revenues of $53.0 million Q2 2001, a decline of 18%. TriPath Imaging, Inc., maker of SurePath™ , had sales of $9.1 million in second quarter, an increase of 55% over the $6.1 million in revenues for same quarter last year.


Major American corporations are pressuring health- care providers to reduce and eliminate medical errors, contributing to better outcomes and lower costs. Laboratorians will see evidence of this pressure in their own hospitals next year.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is instituting six evidence-based goals for improving patient safety, effective January 1, 2003. Five of these six national patient safety goals correlate with safe practices identified by the National Quality Forum. (NQF).

ADD TO: Health Quality

Hospital-based lab directors and pathologists will see further evidence of the move to measure the quality of healthcare services and make rankings of this performance available to consumers. A number of states are instituting surveys to measure patient satisfaction following their hospital stay. Even the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting in the act. It plans to conduct a national patient satisfaction survey and may require, by next year, hospitals to use this survey to rate their own patient satisfaction. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is developing the survey. Already the California Healthcare Federation has conducted patient satisfaction surveys and posted the results on its Web site (www.chcf.org) and is doing a follow-up survey at 157 hospitals.

Here’s an interesting peek at some developing point-of-care (POC) diagnostic technology that’s not quite ready for humans. Synbiotics, Inc., based in San Diego, California, is now selling veterinarians a 15-minute blood test to check the immunity dogs have to two infectious diseases: canine parvovirus and distemper. It’s the first test of its type to be approved by the U.S Department of Agriculture.


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