“January 24, 2005 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

Blood-alcohol testing in the emergency room can generate surprising results. That was certainly the case in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on December 20, 2004. A 67-year old pedestrian, hit by a car, was taken to the emergency room. Using a breath analyzer, his blood-alcohol level registered at .914! Physicians and police were amazed, since the patient was conscious and speaking with them. The breathalyzer test was confirmed after each of five separate lab tests conducted that day confirmed the .914 blood-alcohol level. This is almost double the .55 blood-alcohol level that is considered fatal. It is also eight times the .08 legal limit for driving in many states here in our country.


In the Western United States, a successful laboratory seeks a Chief Operating Officer. This lab’s CEO is infusing new energy into a proven lab management team and wants an effective change agent to lead the effort. Interested and qualified parties can contact Editor Robert Michel in confidence at 512-264-7103 or by e-mailing labletter@aol.com.


It’s a startling statistic! Patients treated in the Veterans Administration (VA) Health System receive recommended care 67% of the time while the general population gets recommended care only 51% of the time. This is the conclusion of a new study recently published in the Annuals of Internal Medicine. Researchers at RAND Corp., the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Michigan evaluated 348 clinical indicators of quality linked to 26 medical conditions. As an example, VA patients with diabetes received the care recommended for their condition 70% of the time. This contrasts with diabetes patients in the general population getting recommended care only 57% of the time.


These findings indicate that the VA Healthcare System is making progress on its strategic goal of improving healthcare outcomes and reducing medical errors. To support this goal, the VA has spent considerable resources to move to an all-electronic health record. (See TDR, June 7, 2004.) The findings in this study complement those released by RAND Health in the summer of 2003. At that time, researchers reported on a study that involved phone interviews with 13,275 people, followed by examination of the physical health records of 6,712 of these individuals. In this study, researchers determined that patients get the care recommended for their condition only 54.9% of the time. Further, researchers reported that, 11.3% of the time, people received care that “was not recommended and was potentially harmful.”
(See TDR, July 7, 2003.)


• On December 1, 2004, Focus Technologies, Inc. adopted a new name: Focus Diagnostics, Inc. Based in Herndon, Virginia, the company was founded in 1978 and built a national business by specializing in reference and esoteric microbiology testing services. For many years, Focus was known as MRL Reference Laboratory.


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