“March 15, 2004 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Bar codes will soon be an essential element in most laboratories. Final regulations published on February 26 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will take effect during the next two years. The FDA is requiring that prescription and over-the-counter drugs given to hospital patients have bar codes. Vaccines and certain blood and blood products will have bar codes. To prevent errors, patients in hospitals will have bar code wrist bands to allow providers to verify patient identification and the drugs or other products prescribed for that patient. Estimates are that bar codes will prevent 500,000 adverse events and transfusion errors during the next 20 years.

Did you catch “National Patient Safety Awareness Week” last week? Officially, it ran from March 7 to 13. This event precedes the wide-spread concerns over medical errors that followed the IOM’s report on that subject two years ago. “National Patient Safety Awareness Week” was actually launched in 1996 by the AMA and several corporate sponsors.

WATCH OUT! THE “ZIPPIES” ARE COMING!

In the 1960s, it was “hippies.” By the 1980s, “yuppies” was in the lexicon. Prepare yourselves. The next socio-economic label is going to be “zippies.” Moreover, it may be zippies who transcribe pathology cases long-distance, who provide customer service for your laboratory vendors, and may even read pathology slides at some future point. The term is used in India to describe the host of educated youth who are getting jobs to serve the developed world. Outlook, a weekly news magazine published in India, recently profiled zippies with a story headlined “The Zippies Are Here.”

ADD TO: “Zippies”

Laboratory directors and pathologists should not underestimate the potential of zippies to affect many dimensions of laboratory testing—from the other side of the globe. In India, 55% of the population is under age 25. That’s 555 million people. A zippy working as a telemarketer (selling services to Americans or answering the service calls made by customers of American companies), generally earns around $300 per month. This is more than double what that telemarketer’s middle class father earned in professional positions. For that reason, zippies have economic clout in India. Zippies speak English, often have sophisticated technical skills, and provide services at a price that is a fraction of the compensation paid in North America and Europe. THE DARK REPORT knows of at least one laboratory IT vendor now outsourcing soft- ware code development and other services to a contractor in India.

Glucose testing in Japan has entered a new dimension. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. of Japan has built a toilet that checks a person’s temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar. This data can then be electronically transmitted to a medical professional monitoring the patient’s status from afar.

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