“February 14, 2005 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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There’s a new leader at the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA). On February 7, 2005, CLMA President Judy Lien announced that the association’s new Chief Executive Officer is Dana Procsal, Ph.D., a veteran laboratory industry executive. Most recently, Procsal was Vice President of Laboratory Improvement Programs at the College of American Pathologists, a position he held for ten years. His lab experience goes back to BioScience Laboratoriesin Van Nuys, California. It also includes positions with SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories, where he was General Manager of the Chicago Laboratory.


CLMA is embarked on a major “makeover,” thus, its new executive director no longer has that title, but is now the association’s CEO. CLMA’s joint annual meeting with the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), scheduled for March 5-8, 2005 in Chicago, has its own new name: CLMA/ASCP “ThinkLab ’05.”


Recently, Wall Street Journal Columnist Tara Parker-Pope, writing in a story about cancer care, noted that “pathology reports in cancer cases have errors of 1% to 20% of the time.” That caused a reader to write and ask “Is this [pathology error rate] someone’s best guess, or is it documented by research?” Last week, on February 8, Parker-Pope published the letter and responded by saying, “There is growing evidence that patients should always seek a second opinion on lab work when cancer is suspected or diagnosed, but I have been surprised by how many skeptical doctors have written me asking for the specific studies supporting this.” She then referenced a “most-cited” research study from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

ADD TO: Pathology Errors

Parker-Pope stated that the Johns Hopkins study concluded that about 1.4% of pathology cases involve serious errors. She also noted that the error rate varies depending on the body part and type of cancer. As to the higher rate of errors, Parker-Pope referenced the Hopkins study and wrote “In the case of prostate cancer, about 20% of the time mistakes had been made in staging and grading, which tell doctors how advanced or aggressive the cancer.” In finishing her response to the letter-writer, Parker-Pope referenced similar studies on pathology errors by Dana Farber Cancer Institute (2004), Northwestern University (2002), and St. James University Hospitalin the United Kingdom (2005). With publication of her response to the question of pathology errors, Parker-Pope will certainly be peppered with missives from peeved pathologists wanting to clarify the accuracy rate of pathology diagnoses.

Congratulations are extended to American Esoteric Laboratories, Inc., which held a grand opening of its new laboratory facility in Dallas last month.


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