If you’re looking for a deep dive into key issues facing clinical laboratorians today, then plan to arrive in Philadelphia in time to attend a morning or afternoon AACC University session on Sunday, July 31, before the official start of the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

This conference before the conference features 12 sessions on topics that include the ins and outs of coagulation, the latest in laboratory regulations, troubleshooting liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry, and the ABCs of installing an automation line.

AACC University sessions require an additional fee, but attendees also are welcome to come to the Sunday Plenary Session and the AACC Community Opening Mixer. Plus, AACC University is an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge and improve your skills if you aren’t able to attend the full AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

Bradley Karon, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, is moderating the Best Practices in Continuous Laboratory Compliance session. Among the topics covered will be the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements for proficiency testing (PT) for regulated analytes, non-regulated, and waived analytes.

Karon provided CLN Stat with a preview of his session, highlighting several issues that get labs into trouble. These include:

  • Not realizing that failures due to clerical errors/omissions or failure to return results “count” toward repeat unsuccessful PT performance. This can lead to a mandatory 6-month cease testing for regulated analytes.
  • Misunderstanding the instructions to “treat PT like a patient sample.” “It seems simple,” Karon told CLN Stat, “but it can be more complicated for testing that is partly completed in one lab and then referred out to another.” Such referrals may lead to sanctions, he said, including lab closure.
  • Being unaware of new ways that the College of American Pathologists and CMS “count” repeat unsuccessful PT survey performance, which requires trending performance over six survey cycles.
  • Forgetting to have the lab director or designee physically sign the attestation form, since CMS does not accept electronic signatures.

Danyel Hermes Tacker, PhD, DABCC, FACB, an assistant professor of pathology at West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, is leading The ABCs of Installing an Automation Line.

We asked her what makes selecting and installing an automation line so tricky. “There are so many components that go into an automation project,” she told CLN Stat. “Selecting the correct automation for the laboratory's needs is key, but that's probably the easiest part.”

Labs also must coordinate with vendors, facilities, and information technology staff to keep tight timelines, all while engaging, motivating, and training the staff, as well as maintaining clinical service.

“It's a hectic business that demands time and resources, usually beyond what most labs initially imagine at project initiation,” she explained.

Tacker and the other speakers will share “pearls of wisdom” with participants to smooth their installations. She also promised to leave significant time for an interactive question-and-answer discussion with the speakers.