Late Monday afternoon, a few thousand clinical chemists packed into a cavernous convention hall in Philadelphia to hear a presentation by Elizabeth Holmes, the embattled CEO and founder of blood testing company Theranos. Her presentation, given in a controversial session of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s annual conference, was expected by many to be an opportunity for Holmes to finally reveal data that could back up the company’s lofty claims about its blood testing technology—technology now mired in scandal.
She didn’t provide data on Theranos’ existing finger-stick technology, which had been the subject of so much media attention in the past, or information about the accuracy of Theranos’ tests. She did not address the critical question of how she would continue to run the company if she is barred from operating a lab. Instead, Holmes spent most of her time introducing a new, and unrelated, Theranos device, which she described as "the result of hundreds of scientists’ work over many years." It’s called the "miniLab": a proprietary machine, about the size of a small printer, designed to run tests on small samples of blood, which seems, at first look, to offer the potential to conduct tests remotely. Holmes explained that the device has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but that the company is pursuing regulatory approval.
Click here to watch Elizabeth Holmes' presentation
At the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo visionaries in the field will illuminate the pioneering research and technology paving the way for better clinical testing and patient care. Explore the latest research on:
Cannabis: Recent research has revealed that determining whether a driver is impaired by marijuana is much more complicated than testing for blood alcohol content. The latest findings on the impact of marijuana on driving and overall health, as well as the newest developments in testing for cannabinoids in blood and saliva will be presented.
Researchers from Calgary Laboratory Services will also present a study on a new urine test to detect cannabis and its metabolites that is accurate and cost-effective.
Halving premature death: An overview of the major causes of death in different parts of the world, with a focus on preventable causes of mortality such as tobacco, which still accounts for six million deaths worldwide each year. Researchers will also explain how global efforts to tackle these preventable causes could cut rates of premature death in half.
Innovative technology: Delve into the programmable bio-nano-chip, a mobile health testing platform that could make it possible to diagnose conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and infectious diseases with a device the size of a credit card chip.
In a separate plenary, discussion on the "intelligent" surgical knife will occur, a novel device that couples electrosurgical tools to mass spectrometry.
An Auckland District Health Board lab technician has been censured after inappropriately prying into medical records. Rosalinda Zabala inappropriately accessed the medical records of patients just short of 900 times in a three year period. Zabala was caught after she accessed the records of a one-year-old patient, who was a distant relative. She raised concerns about the child's liver function results to a nurse in front of the parents, who were not aware of the results. A manager conducted an audit of Zabala's database use and found she had repeatedly accessed the records of other patients, including family church members and her own record.
Zabala, a 15 year employee, admitted her wrongdoing when confronted by management and subsequently was fired in 2014. In a decision released in July, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal said Zabala was penalized enough by losing her job. She was censured for the misconduct, charged $4000 in costs and would be required to take a course on ethics, privacy and confidentiality. The Tribunal did not think there was any ongoing issue of patient safety that required a suspension.