In This Issue...


Physician Groups Develop Lists of Overused Tests

A group of nine physician specialty societies participating in the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s “Choosing Wisely” campaign recently identified specific tests or procedures that they believe are commonly over-utilized. The purpose of this consumer-driven campaign is to reduce unnecessary health services, while encouraging physicians to work with their patients to develop individualized tests and treatments. Two recommendations of interest to clinical laboratorians include:

  • In patients with low pretest probability of venous thromboembolism (VTE), obtain a high-sensitive D-dimer measurement as the initial diagnostic test; don’t obtain imaging studies as the initial diagnostic test (American College of Physicians); and
  • Don’t perform Pap smears on women younger than 21 or on those who have had a hysterectomy for non-cancer disease (American Academy of Family Physicians).

To see a complete listing of the participating groups, and all 45 recommendations, please visit the “Choosing Wisely” Web site.

CMS Announces New ICD-10 Start Date

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that October 1, 2014 will be the new effective date for implementing the ICD-10 coding requirements. This gives providers one extra year to adopt the new classification system. For a copy of the CMS notice, please visit the Federal Register Web site.

GAO Asserts FDA Needs to Improve 510(k) Review Process

A Government Accountability Organization (GAO) assessment of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 510(k) review process indicates that the agency is meeting many of the performance goals set out in the most recent medical device user fee agreement. According to the investigative agency, the FDA reviews 90 percent of all 510(k)s within 90 days and 98 percent within 150 days -- both accomplishments are objectives of the last agreement. However, the timeframe for making a final decision has increased from 100 days to 161 days over the past five years, negating some of the advances. A copy of the report is available on the GAO Web site.

IRS to Outline PCORI Fee Process

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is releasing a notice of proposed rulemaking that will outline how it plans to collect the fees for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) created by the 2010 health care reform law. Under the statute, health care insurers or self-insured plans must pay PCORI $1 per policy from October 1, 2012 through October 1, 2013. After that period, insurers and plans would pay the Institute $2 per policy each year through 2019. In all, these fees would generate $2.6 billion to fund the Institute’s comparative effectiveness research. PCORI is currently developing a plan for allocating these funds. For more information about PCORI, please visit its Web site.

National Medical Laboratory Professional Week is April 22-28

This year marks the 37th National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, which celebrates the vital role that laboratory professionals play in providing safe, quality patient care. Each year, these professionals perform and interpret more than 10 billion tests, which are used to diagnose, monitor and treat disease. In honor of these individuals, AACC and a dozen other laboratory groups sponsor this annual event. To learn more about what you and your laboratory can do to celebrate this important occasion, please the 2012 Lab Week Web site.