February 27, 2006 “Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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There’s lots of management turmoil under way at Pathology Partners, Inc., based in Dallas, Texas. On or about February 3, President and CEO Stephen L. Spotts and several other senior executives exited the company. Since then the management page on Pathology Partners’ Web site has noted that it is “under construction” and lists no names. It is not known if the near-simultaneous departure of multiple members of the corporate suite is related to the arrival of new owners in June, 2005. Whatever the reason, this is a significant event for this fast-growing lab services company.

MORE ON: Path Partners

It was in June 2005 that Caris Ltd. paid $120 million to purchase a majority interest in Pathology Partners from the founding investors. David D. Halbert, is founder and Chairman of Caris. He also serves as Chairman at Pathology Partners, Inc.


Over the years, in many hospitals, laboratorians have tested neckties worn by physicians and other staff to see what types of bugs might be present. Now the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents 75% of the physicians in the United Kingdom, has issued a call for physicians to stop wearing ties and other “functionless” clothing. The recommendation was contained in a report released on February 19 that called for heightened measures to control infections. The increase in MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections is one reason that neckties and other types of clothing were singled out.

ADD TO: Doc’s Neckties

Although the BMA’s report detailed a number of significant steps to better control infections, the British press jumped on the specific recommendation, made by Vivienne Nathanson, Head of Ethics and Science at BMA, that “ties, in our view, are an unnecessary piece of clothing. We recognize that people touch their ties and wear them for a long time. People have to recognize the potential danger.” In one recent study, all the ties worn by physicians in an orthopedic unit in Sussex were determined to carry bugs frequently found in the infected wounds of patients. The BMA’s recommendation involving ties and other “functionless” clothing is a sign of how campaigns to reduce infections will increasingly seek to reduce or eliminate even relatively minor potential sources of infection.

An exposé published by The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Oregon on February 12, 2006 revealed that, for a seven-year period, placentas from women with difficult births were harvested (without specific patient permission or notice) at hospitals in three states. The placentas were then sent to a lab in Portland funded, in part, by a malpractice insurance company. A pathologist at the lab studied the placentas and prepared reports that were later used by hospitals to defend against malpractice claims. Public knowledge of this scheme surfaced as a result of malpractice lawsuits.


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