By - February 02, 2021
Over the past six months, ASCP members—pathologists and medical laboratory professionals—have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 global pandemic, working around the clock to save lives. ASCP has also been unrelenting during this crisis to ensure that our members have the resources they need during this pandemic and to expand public awareness of the heroic work they are doing.
ASCP has been active on numerous fronts to advocate for the needs of our members, particularly on the need to expand the capacity of clinical laboratories to provide diagnostic testing for COVID-19. This includes urging the Food and Drug Administration early in the pandemic to allow certain clinical laboratories to develop and use their own molecular diagnostics.
In early April, ASCP leaders created a 15-point national COVID-19 Test Strategy and encouraged members to write President Trump and Congressional leaders to demand that more testing infrastructure be put in place. More than 41,000 letters were generated; ASCP leaders briefed officials from the White House Task Force and Health and Human Services agencies regarding aspects of the plan. Congressional leaders each had copies of the ASCP strategy as they drafted legislation. Many of the elements of the ASCP strategy were incorporated into the Paycheck Protection Program Act that became law in late April, and $25 billion was allocated to expand the nation’s diagnostic testing capacity.
Since that time, ASCP leaders have continued to urge President Trump to create a national pandemic testing task force to help improve nationwide COVID-19 testing capacity.
Meanwhile, in collaboration with the ASCP Board of Certification Board of Governors, ASCP has also written to governors and health directors to ensure that state efforts have a ready workforce including laboratory professionals. With testing imperative to the COVID-19 response, state assistance is needed for laboratories to maintain test capacity via access to a skilled, COVID-19 negative workforce.
In March, ASCP developed a plan to showcase the behind-the-scenes work that our professionals and their laboratories across the nation are doing to care for patients. A “docuseries” was planned, and ASCP CEO E. Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM traveled to several sites and highlighted the work of our members. The sites included NorthShore University Health System, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Washington, Seattle, the UCLA Health System, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. You can find the docuseries as well as other timely updates and resources on ASCP’s COVID-19 Resources web page at www.ascp.org/COVID-19.
ASCP’s COVID-19 Resources web page has become a go-to site where our members can check back for the latest developments related to COVID-19. Here, we have research articles written by ASCP members and experts in the field, as well as links to news articles in which our members and senior leaders have been interviewed by prominent news media including CNN, National Public Radio, Sirius Radio, the Washington Post and the BBC.
In April, ASCP launched an ongoing series of free, virtual Town Halls, in which ASCP CEO E. Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM, moderates a panel discussion on key topics concerning the laboratory team during this crisis and beyond. In May, ASCP received $150,000 in funding from Pfizer Global Medical Grants to support a series of six Town Halls. Each Town Hall activity is eligible for 1 CME/CMLE credit and can be viewed at www.ascp.org/townhall.
ASCP is pleased to announce its 2020 Choosing Wisely Champions who have made significant contributions in the effort to reduce test overuse and waste in health care. The Choosing Wisely Champions program, in collaboration with the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, recognizes individual clinicians, as well as teams of clinicians, and their commitment to the ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely Campaign and seeks to inspire clinicians to implement the Choosing Wisely initiative in their own practice. This year’s ASCP Choosing Wisely Champions include two individual physicians and a team from one instuition.
In his role as Laboratory Quality and Informatics Lead at BayCare Health System in Clearwater, Florida, Sachin Gupta, PhD, MBA, MT(ASCPi)MB, Lean SSBB, manages and makes improvements in laboratory processes.For the past five years, Dr. Gupta—who has a PhD in molecular pathology and is certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt—has been involved in more than 20 quality improvement initiatives at BayCare Health System. Some of these initiatives include reducing overutilization of CT chest angiography using a pre-test probability clinical decision tool and D-Dimer for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism and appropriate use of C. Diff PCR and MRSA PCR tests using evidence-based guidelines and clinical decision support tools to guide treatment. Dr. Gupta takes a broad view of laboratory data, identifies significant trends and studies health information to effectively improve patient safety and clinical outcomes. His work improves overall patient care and helps in reducing the cost of health care. Dr. Gupta and the quality improvement team at BayCare Health System often utilize Choosing Wisely recommendations as part of evidence-based, best practice guidelines.
Eric A. Gehrie, MD, FASCP, is an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland, where he is also the medical director of the Blood Bank, associate director of the Pathology Residency Program and associate director of the Patient Blood Management Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Gehrie’s work with platelet transfusion demonstrates appropriate use of blood products is essential for maintaining a safe and evidence-based clinical environment. Despite multitudes of studies comparing liberal versus restrictive red blood cell transfusion strategies, there remains a paucity of data for platelet transfusion requirements, especially in high-use patient populations like oncology. To examine the daily use and necessity of platelet transfusions in the adult oncology group, Dr. Gehrie has studied the clinical difference and impact between 1-unit platelet transfusions and 2-unit platelet transfusions. His two-year retrospective review demonstrates that the routine use of 2-platelet transfusions per patient provided no benefit over a single platelet transfusion. His study stands as a singular example of judicious use of a limited biologic product-platelets. His research recognizes the importance of reducing unnecessary platelet transfusions; patients are exposed to fewer donors, hospital platelet inventories remain intact for critical patients, and the financial budget for the blood bank remains fiscally solvent.
The Quest Lab Stewardship Reference Program supports the implementation of Choosing Wisely guidelines in clinical practice settings across the country. Quest Diagnostics serves more than half of all prescribing physicians and hospitals, which enables Quest Lab Stewardship to have considerable national reach. Quest Diagnostics has provided customers with a complimentary view into their send-out testing laboratory ordering practices with Quest Lab Stewardship Reference. Insight from Quest Lab Stewardship Reference supports health systems and hospitals with managing and monitoring any interventions associated with guideline education needs and helps them focus on targeted areas where adherence gaps are identified. Quest Lab Stewardship has executed five codable rules across 397 healthcare organizations and includes more than 23.5 million laboratory orders. Quest Diagnostics has provided access to the Choosing Wisely recommendations through links and citations in the complimentary products they offer, as well as referencing these rules as part of a utilization review of ordering practices. The Quest Lab Stewardship platform provides health systems a concrete, near-time measurable view into their adherence to codable guidelines. Orders are directly measured against adherence. Lastly, Quest Diagnostics has served as an ambassador for the Choosing Wisely campaign through discussion and participation in best practice groups.
ASCP communications writer