A Laboratory Technician has been accused of faking drug case test results for the New Jersey State Police Laboratory in Little Falls. He has allegedly “dry labbed” suspected CDS specimens, which means he was observed writing test results that were never completed for suspected marijuana cases. Employed for a 10 year period at the state lab, all of the accused’s cases are now being called into question for safety purposes according to state officials. However, only one incidence of misconduct was observed. "Mr. Shah was observed in one case spending insufficient time analyzing a substance to determine if it was marijuana and recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis," said Elie Honig, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. The individual has been removed from his position (believed to have retired), with charges still pending. The prosecutor's office's plan, Deputy Public Defender Judy Fallon,said, "is to submit for retesting specimens from open cases. The larger, and unanswered, question is how this impacts already resolved cases, especially those where the specimens may have been destroyed."
According to Dark Daily, “Anatomic pathology labs and clinical laboratories that continue to run Microsoft Windows XP on their computer systems now have a real threat to address.” In a recent incident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, a computer virus infected the hospital’s Windows XP and shut down the pathology department as well as the delivery of meals and other divisions. Staff were forced to complete their workload using a manual paper based method. The Qbot virus used to infect the system general targets banking systems to steal passwords and user keystrokes. Thankfully, it was reported that patient’s medical records were not comprised during the virus invasion. The Hospital did not take Microsoft’s advisement in 2008 that Windows XP support would end by April 2014, nor the warnings that possible security consequences may occur thereafter. Maintaining up-to-date systems and monitoring for potential threats is paramount to ensuring the safety of patient, staff and the efficiency of the healthcare system. Internal reviews should not be taken lightly and proactive updating of systems should be built into IT process.
Related Article: Hack attack on a hospital IT system highlights the risk of still running Windows XP
Quote: “Laboratories and the vital role they play in the science of medicine is now at the tipping point.” Martin Wilkinson is Laboratory Product Manager at InterSystems.
The scaling up of the work completed in clinical laboratory and pathology fields has increased in part due to the rise of universal healthcare around the world, an increase in diagnostic services, the growth of precision medicine, and an aging population. Pathology is involved in 70% of all healthcare diagnoses and expected to grow into a US$149 billion industry by 2020. Valuable and predictive information comes from the abundance of tests and diagnostics, which can be used in a continuum of feedback and process improvement monitored through laboratory information management systems (LIMS). Read this interesting article to hear more about the changes and future of pathology in reference to precision medicine, information systems, new models of testing for an ageing population, expansion of point-of-care testing and the increased role laboratories will play.
“Penn Signals” is a project by Penn Medicine that uses big data to develop predictive analytics, specifically to diagnose critical diseases early. The data set includes over 3 million patients across a 10 year span and has started to yield results as discussed below. The big data analysis project signals a continued change to focus more on proactive diagnostics and predictors in healthcare services. However, according to a recent Gartner Group study, 65% of respondents could not identify the value of a big data system and considered this as the single greatest barrier preventing them from adopting produced solutions. Take a moment and consider the importance of big data evidence produced by Penn Signals and reflect on the impact it has on patient care:
• clinical studies have shown that every hour a patient goes undiagnosed, there is a mortality rate
increase of more than 7%.
• an algorithm detected 20% more patients who were trending toward cardiac failure than traditional methods, as well as identified 5% times more patients who were likely to be readmitted after heart failure.
Related Article: Analytics a catalyst for clinical evolution at Penn Medicine