COVID-19

Back to the Foundational Facts of Lab Safety

By Dan Scungio bio Things have changed drastically over the past several months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Many adjustments to how we work and live have been made and it has become difficult to separate fact from fiction. Should masks and goggles be worn at work? What type? Can we eat together on breaks? Information about the pandemic is abundant on news outlets and social media. Not all this information is correct, there are many coronavirus myths and misconceptions that are promoted online. However, many people treat all this information as gospel—a dangerous practice for those working in the laboratory. How can laboratorians discern fact from fiction or opinion? There are at least two basic truths of safety we should never forget. These foundational facts can help us to… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Here’s new guidance on COVID-19 and FLSA

By Mike O’Brien bio For managers in charge of HR, the so-called lazy days of summer have been anything but lazy, as they strive to adapt to the COVID era and stay up to date on seemingly constant new government guidances. The Department of Labor has provided more information for employers regarding pandemic-related wage and hour issues. Specifically, the agency answered questions about hazard pay, FLSA’s overtime and minimum wage exemptions, and what time is compensable with respect to pandemic-related telework arrangements: DOL notes that hazard pay is not required under FLSA, but may be required under state or local laws, collective bargaining agreements, or company policies. DOL makes clear that taking leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will not jeopardize an employee’s exempt status under FLSA’s… . . . read more

Lab Safety

3 signs nobody is paying attention to safety

By Dan Scungio bio The safety officer walked into the satellite laboratory and saw an employee scrolling through social media on her cell phone. Another employee was wearing mesh sneakers and chewing gum in the department. In the storeroom chemicals were stacked on high shelves and the aisles were blocked with empty boxes. The safety officer had come to perform an audit, but it was clear in a minute that the safety culture here was not great. Visual cues are a fast way to see that no one is paying attention to safety, but there are other methods as well, and it’s important to use them. Not paying attention to safety has consequences. 1 Visual Cues Picking up on visual cues is not a talent you should expect to perfect… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

COVID-19, immigrant worker, discrimination and DACA developments

By Mike O’Brien bio EEOC says no to COVID-19 antibody testing: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently (6/17/20) updated its COVID-19 guidance to indicate that employers should not be requiring employees to submit to antibody testing. Here is the verbatim Q&A (found at EEOC Guidance): Question: (A.7.): CDC said in its Interim Guidelines that antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace.” In light of this CDC guidance, under the ADA may an employer require antibody testing before permitting employees to re-enter the workplace? Answer: No. An antibody test constitutes a medical examination under the ADA. In light of CDC’s Interim Guidelines that antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,” an antibody… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

Supreme Court ruling extends workplace protections to LGBTQ workers

By Mike O’Brien bio SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND TRANSGENDER STATUS NOW ARE PROTECTED CLASSES NATIONALLY: Federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees, the United States Supreme Court announced June 15 in a landmark ruling. The historic decision will extend workplace anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections to about 8 million LGBTQ workers nationwide. The ruling also vindicates a position long taken by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is a defeat, however, for the Trump administration, which opposed the EEOC. President Trump instructed the Department of Justice to argue that the provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation bias. This led to the odd circumstance where two parts of the same government argued for opposite… . . . read more

Lab Safety

How we return to lab and clinic “normal”

By Dan Scungio bio The evolving COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world – the way we educate, the way we conduct business, and the way we socialize (or don’t). In the lab and clinic settings, there are many practices and procedures that have changed or are now being questioned. Sometimes the answer evolves quickly, sometimes there is national guidance to assist with a particular issue, and sometimes your own facility or organization makes the decisions for you. As we begin a return to “normal” practices, as the pandemic starts to wind down, it’s time to address some issues that arose often in recent months but that should always be considered for employee safety. Q: Should nurses or other staff come into the lab department wearing gloves? A: No, it is… . . . read more

Technology

Choosing A Partner to Automate Your Compliance Department

By Kristi Williams bio Sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious.  And sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what has been right in front of you all along.  Such is the case with automation in healthcare. Today, healthcare organizations find themselves continuously challenged to keep up with changing regulatory requirements and to ensure that their business practices adhere to external rules and internal controls. That responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of the compliance department who is tasked with identifying risks that an organization faces and implementing controls to protect the company from those risks. The need for an effective compliance program is not new.  It has been understood by health plans for years.  What is new however is that an increasing number of health plans are turning to automation… . . . read more

COVID Restrictions Ease

Top 10 questions an employer should ask before returning employees to work

By Mike O’Brien bio As various states and municipalities across the country lift shutdowns and begin easing COVID restrictions, employers are faced with complex questions about safely bringing their employees back to the workplace. We’ve compiled the top 10 questions every employer should consider before returning employees to work.   How do we implement proper infection prevention measures? First, and perhaps foremost, employers should design, implement, communicate, and begin to monitor basic infection prevention measures as they return employees to onsite work. Although a complex task, OSHA and CDC have both published step-by-step instructions for employers on how to implement appropriate infection prevention measures. OSHA has published an employer Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which outlines the specific steps it believes all employers should take to reduce workers’ risk of… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

Employment law changing on the fly in response to COVID-19

By Mike O’Brien bio COVID-19 has ushered in a variety of new, and fast-evolving employment law changes, from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). EMPLOYEE RETENTION TAX CREDIT:  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a tax credit for employers that retain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.  The credit generally provides relief to employers of all sizes in the form of a refundable payroll tax credit of 50% of all “qualified wages” paid (up to $10,000 per employee) during the COVID-19 crisis if (i) operations were fully or partially suspended or subject to a shut-down order; or (ii) gross receipts declined more than 50% compared to the same quarter in the prior year.  Note that for… . . . read more

COVID-19 Alternative Safe Practices

My PPE is Back-Ordered: Now What?

By Dan Scungio bio The COVID-19 pandemic is peaking in the United States, and many things are being affected in unprecedented ways. Schools are closing, business travel is banned, gatherings are canceled, and stores are out of…toilet paper. There are supply shortages that are peaking as well, and some of the items that have become hard to get include personal protective equipment (PPE). Does that mean we can work without it in the laboratory setting? Absolutely not, neither OSHA nor any other regulatory agency will put a halt to safety practices that protect workers in any setting. But what if you really can’t get the PPE supplies you need? There are some alternatives. One thing to remember is that PPE should be used wisely and efficiently, even when there is… . . . read more

Lab Safety

Coronavirus in the Histology Laboratory

By Clifford M. Chapman bio The current world health care concern over coronavirus (i.e., COVID-19) has generated many questions regarding many aspects of this fast spreading disease. It is important to address the subject of the affect, if any, of this disease on how we work in and operate histopathology laboratories. An important and timely article was published online in the Journal of Histotechnology 01 March 2020. The article “Coronavirus disinfection in histopathology” by Anthony F. Henwood (1) was referenced by Gayle Callis on the NSH Open Forum and has been granted open access. Everyone is urged to read the entire article. Herein is a review to provide the essential findings of the article. The author provides a brief history of the coronavirus outbreak and its relationship to previous outbreaks… . . . read more

Increasing Profits  

Strategic planning needs to evolve over time

By Nick Hernandez bio Some of my counterparts have a firm belief that strategic planning is a rigid process which should occur once every three to five years. The process they undertake is often done during an off-site planning session with the outcome being printed up in a large three-ring binder. In less than six months, those binders are sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust, never to again see the light of day. I, on the other hand, believe that strategic planning should be a continuous process involving the ongoing adjustment of means and ends. We should also view planning as an evolutionary process involving continuous adjustment and improvement. We can think of strategic planning as a solution-by-evolution rather than solution-by-engineering. We should generally not view strategic planning as… . . . read more

Lab Safety

Doing What We’ve Always Done

By Dan Scungio bio Scenario: The reference cytology lab has always had limited storage space for supplies and specimens. They use tall wire racks to store the many liquid-based cytology specimen vials. The vials contain small amounts of flammable chemicals, and the shelves are seven feet high. They have followed this storage procedure for 10 years. It took Jan four years to get her clinical lab staff to a decent point of compliance with regard to PPE use. They were pretty good now about donning lab coats and gloves, and even the use of face protection while handling open specimens has improved greatly. There were, however, many staff members who refused to give up wearing mesh sneakers while at work. Given the amount of work she put in already to… . . . read more

Billing & Collections

Finding the “Backdoor” into Payer Networks

By Steve Selbst bio  I am delighted to be able to share with you a key “secret to success” about payer contracting. Today’s article is about getting in the “backdoor” with payers and complementing your payer network by building your patient/customer base. In my journey navigating tens of thousands of payer contracts’ negotiations, it has become clear to me that there are times when a payer will close its network to certain provider types, based on its network need. Don’t despair; there are other “paths to Oz.”  Certainly, there are ways to build value propositions and ways to escalate up the payer management chain. These are topics for another day. Today, we’ll talk about an even easier to implement alternative: complementary payers! Complementary payers What is a complementary payer? Looking… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

New overtime rule now in effect

By Mike O’Brien bio Jan. 1, 2020 was the deadline to comply with new FLSA overtime rule. At the end of September the Department of Labor issued its long-awaited final rule updating the salary level test for white-collar overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the new rule, the minimum salary level for exemption is raised from $455 a week to $684 a week, or $35,568 annually. The change marks the first increase in the minimum salary level to take effect in more than 15 years. It is expected to bring overtime eligibility to over a million employees who are ineligible under the current threshold. Although the DOL released a final rule raising the salary level in 2016, the rule was blocked by a federal district court and… . . . read more

BILLING & COLLECTIONS

Accessions Disappearing or Not Getting Billed?

By Sean McSweeney bio Ever get that feeling that there should be more charges in the billing system? How many times have you or someone else said something like “we did 3000 samples last month, but we only see 2500 that got billed”? Are salespeople complaining that all their samples aren’t in there? How can you tell if they are just complaining, whether the referral source didn’t send as many as they think or claim (which we all know happens), or if there were more samples sent or received and instead of getting billed they are just going “poof”? Where can revenue be lost? Tons of places. Most people in the laboratory world are familiar with the concept that not all claims get paid. Everyone is used to this concept… . . . read more

BILLING & COLLECTIONS

5 ways to break down bureaucracies to get payer contracts

By Steve Selbst bio It is important to remember that payers are large companies, with protocols, policies and business practices. As with any large company, there are bureaucracies, and they are necessary to maintain the order and success of these organizations. Therefore, the first tip is to understand that to get contracted you need to identify the right department and right person to send your request to get contracted. This is usually the payer contracting department and payer contracts’ manager. Generally, you will be sending your requests to the payer contracts’ manager in your state. A common mistake is to—instead—send these requests to provider relations or to another department. This brings us to our second tip. That is, figure out the approach the payer is using to establish its fee… . . . read more

Why Cleaning Up Your Dirty Data is Critical to Clinical Interoperability and Financial Survival

By Gregg Church bio
Hospital-based and commercial labs are flooded with all types of mismatched patient data. However, disparate systems coupled with a lack of universally mandated data standards and protocols means that big data just gets bigger—and clinical interoperability challenges just get larger…


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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Immigration alert, social media, salary threshold, minimum wage, trafficking and more

By Mike O’Brien bio
Immigration alert—more Social Security “no-match” letters to issue this fall: The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced its plan to mail a second set of “no-match letters” to employers this fall…


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HIPPA

Compliance Perspectives: Using Document Management Systems to Avoid HIPAA Pitfalls

By Andreas Rivera bio
Record-keeping can be one of the most stressful aspects of running a healthcare business since privacy compliance is scrutinized in healthcare more than any other industry.
Anyone with experience in the healthcare industry knows that violating HIPAA comes with steep penalties…


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CO-ORDINATING DATA

Laboratory Information Systems (LIS): What You Need To Know To Get Paid

By Sean McSweeney  bio
Today, laboratory billing claims require more and more data to successfully get paid.
One of the biggest reasons your claims may be getting denied is because…


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COMPLIANCE

Genetic Testing Fraud Prosecutions are on the Rise around the Country. Are Your Genetic Testing Practices Compliant?

By Robert Liles  bio
Over the last year, a number of genetic testing fraud investigations and prosecutions have been initiated by…


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LAB OPERATIONS

Earning our Spot on the Patient-Centered Care Team

By Jennifer Dawson, MHA, FACHE, CPHQ, LSSBB, DLM(ASCP)SLS, QIHC, QLC  bio
There is a lot of talk these days about integrating the laboratory into patient-centered care teams1 and about forming…


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OIG OPINION

Is Your Billing Company Putting You At Compliance Risk?

By Sean McSweeney  bio
Does your orthopedic billing company charge a percentage of collections for their coding and billing…


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SAFETY

Ergonomics in the Laboratory Setting

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
Sometimes when I am talking about lab safety and the topic turns to ergonomics, I get an unusual reaction from the audience…


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TECHNOLOGY

Top 4 trends shaping the healthcare industry

By Leora Borgenicht  bio
Before the healthcare industry can ambitiously transform to offer more accurate and personalized patient care, certain stepping stones must…


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LAB SAFETY

Changes in hazardous waste management: the Generator Improvement Rule

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
If you haven’t heard by now, you should know that the EPA published its Generator Improvement Rule (GIR) in 2016. It is an update to the…


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COMPLIANCE

Compliance Alert: FDA Warning Letter to Inova Genomics Laboratory

By Danielle Sloane bio and Elaine Naughton bio
Despite it being a continual topic of discussion, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) enforcement in the realm of laboratory developed tests…


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PAYER CONTRACTS

Three key items to negotiate for successful payer contracts

By Steve Selbst  bio
The purpose of this article is to help you, as a provider, to focus on three key items to look for in payer contracts that will help you to get profitable contracts in place…


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LAB SAFETY

When Your Lab Has to Work through a Weather Emergency

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
I read a written Laboratory Emergency Management Plan, and at the end of the document there was a short section called…


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LEGISLATION

New Broad All-Payor Kickback Law Impacting Laboratories, Commission-based Compensation and more

By Danielle Sloane  bio and Chris Climo  bio
In a recent piece of federal legislation intended to address the opioid crisis across the United States, Congress enacted a new all-payor kickback law that applies to…


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COMPLIANCE

Q&A on Lab Waste Management

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
Understanding the proper separation and disposal of the various waste types generated in the lab setting is an important piece of managing the…


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DATA

6 Steps to Data-Driven Transformation

By Nir Kaldero  bio
We’re now well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The First Industrial Revolution was about steam and railroads, the Second about electricity, and the…


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LAB SAFETY

The Safety Interpretation

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
When hospitals were placed on OSHA’s list of “high-risk” workplaces, no one had to ask why. OSHA adjusts that list based on the number of injuries that occur on the job…


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SPECIAL FOCUS

Cost Avoidance vs Cost Savings: What’s the Difference?

By Jennifer Dawson, MHA, DLM (ASCP)  bio
As I work to spread awareness within the clinical laboratory community about the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) concept and its benefits as a method to demonstrate…


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LAB SAFETY

Changes in laboratory waste management

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
In the past, if a laboratory or a facility generated less than 220 pounds (or 100 kilograms) of hazardous (chemical) waste each month…


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EARNINGS

How to Avoid a Laboratory Audit

By Sean McSweeney  bio
Laboratory audits have a much harder impact on your lab than intended. As detailed by the NCBI, the audit’s intent is to review and…


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COMPLIANCE

Where’s your lab safety manual?

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
Laboratory leadership should be committed to providing a safe working environment, and they should believe their employees have a right to know…


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PAMA

PAMA Unlocks Golden Age for Innovative Diagnostics

By Chance Scott  bio
The publication of the 2018 Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) in January saw a long and heated debate within the lab community come to fruition…


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MACRA REQUIREMENT

How to Adjust to the April 2018 Medicare Beneficiary Cards

By Sean McSweeney  bio
In a press release on May 30, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) commented regarding their fraud prevention initiative program and their planned changes regarding…


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FEE SCHEDULES

How PAMA’s Effect in 2018 Molecular Diagnostic Reimbursement Will Make Labs More Money

By Sean McSweeney  bio
The year 2018 is slated to be much brighter for molecular diagnostic labs as PAMA fee schedules show a higher payment rate and amount for many cancer genomics and…


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BILLING AND COLLECTIONS

Should You Contract with The Blues?

By Sean McSweeney  bio
Should you contract with the Blues? Many BCBS insurers around the country are opening up to paneling laboratories where previously that had not often been possible. They are offering…


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SAFETY

Diagnostic danger in the lab: Time to reform how we process orders

By Oleg Bess, M.D.  bio
I don’t know about you, but I was stunned by the findings from a recent report published by Coverys, a national liability insurer, which I feel should…


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REIMBURSEMENT

Out of Network: 6 Frequently Asked Questions

By Richa Singh  bio
As labs face an increasingly challenging reimbursement environment, more providers are doubling down on out-of-network strategies to maximize on collections opportunities…


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ANNUAL SURVEY

Outreach Survey Focuses on Clinical Laboratory Industry Trends Amidst Greatest Disruption in Three Decades

By Jeff Myers  bio
Accumen Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of the 17th Annual National Hospital and Health System Laboratory and Outreach Survey. The survey is designed to capture intelligence on…


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LAB SAFETY

Emergency Staffing ABCs

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
When I was growing up near Buffalo, New York, experiencing two snow storms in three weeks was no big deal; in fact, it was rather commonplace. When I…


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LAB SAFETY

Safety lapses continue with select agents

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
The approach of the holiday season signals the end of another year. Was this just another year in a long line of them for you in lab safety, or was it…


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EMPLOYMENT LAW

Employment Law Update: The Weinstein Edition

By Mike O’Brien  bio
Your news feed, like mine, has exploded with references to someone named Harvey Weinstein for the past few weeks. What’s up? Weinstein is…


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EMPLOYMENT LAW

Employment Law Update for HR Managers October 2017

By Mike O’Brien  bio
Here is my periodic update prepared for interested HR professionals trying to deal with the complex American employment laws…


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LAB OPERATIONS

Don’t Crash & Burn: Why Cutting Your Quality Department’s Budget is not a Good Idea

By Jennifer Dawson, MHA, DLM (ASCP)  bio
Do you think that you can improve your organization’s bottom line by reducing the budget to your quality program and cutting its staff…


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LAB SAFETY

Fanning the Flames

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
Memorizing what actions to take in a fire situation is important, and reviewing this topic in October, National Fire Prevention Month, is both timely and…


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PAMA

Draft 2018 CLFS Reveals Fundamental Flaws in PAMA Reporting Exercise; Time to Take Action

By Lâle White  bio
As XIFIN predicted, the PAMA reporting exercise has resulted in significant proposed laboratory fee cuts. In fact…


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COMPLIANCE

Here’s my latest Employment Law update prepared for many HR professionals

By Mike O’Brien  bio
Lots of ADA Facility Lawsuits in Utah: Here is an interesting legal news update from my partner Mike Judd: Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires places of…


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MANAGING THE LAB

Should you be paying your staff overtime?

From – G2 Blog
It is a recurrent challenge for human resource professionals: Determining whether an employee is exempt from the overtime requirements of the…


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FOCUS ON

Decoding Quality Terminology

By Jennifer Dawson, MHA, LSSBB, DLM(ASCP)  bio
Quality has been defined as fitness for use, conformance to requirements, the pursuit of excellence and a product or service free of deficiencies …


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OPERATIONS

Lean Six Sigma is Not Quality

By Jennifer Dawson, MHA, LSSBB, DLM(ASCP)  bio
Now before the entire industry lynches me for the sacrilege of the title of this article, let me explain what I mean. I have known Lean Six Sigma skeptics and outright haters and trust me…


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LAB SAFETY

By the Numbers: Lab Injury and Exposure Data

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
Finding information about the number of Laboratory Acquired Infections (LAIs) and other laboratory injuries in the United States is difficult…


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EMPLOYMENT LAW

Employment Law Update for August 2017

By Mike O’Brien  bio
Here is my periodic update prepared for interested HR professionals trying to deal with the complex American employment laws…


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MANAGING THE LAB

Why Your Best Talent is Leaving and Four Ways to Win Them Back

By William A. Schiemann, Ph.D  bio
Most leaders of companies today recognize the importance of having engaged people at work. Yet research from the Metrus Institute, Gallup, and others say that…


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EMPLOYMENT LAW

Employment Law Update for HR Managers

By Mike O’Brien  bio
This is my periodic update prepared for interested HR professionals trying to deal with the complex American employment laws…


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DOJ

Medical Necessity Requirement Bites Anatomic Pathologists

By Robert Mazer  bio
The DOJ has announced two separate settlements involving claims for allegedly unnecessary special stains…


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LAB SAFETY

Getting a new lab space? Design it for safety now and save thousands later

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a laboratory manager who worked in a hospital that was designing a new stand-alone emergency department building which would include a…


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MANAGING THE LAB

5 ways to end generational stereotyping in your lab

By Dr. William A. Schiemann  bio
These days, the Millennial Generation is hyped, perhaps even more than Baby Boomers were hyped in the 1950s and 1960s. As I meet with executives around the globe, there is widespread confusion and…


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PATIENT SAFETY

Do No Harm: Diagnostic Errors and the Lab

By Jennifer (McMahon) Dawson, MHA, DLM (ASCP)  bio
“Do no harm” is the mantra that health care providers live by. Doctors, nurses and laboratory professionals alike enter into the business of health care because they are motivated to…


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MANAGING STAFF

Watch Out for Resume Fraud

By Lynne Curry, Ph.D  bio
You know that new laboratory assistant you just hired—the one with the terrific resume and reference? It turns out she never worked for the employers named on the resume or…


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LABORATORY SAFETY

Making Laboratory Safety as Simple as ABC

By Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)  bio
When it comes to safety in the laboratory, there are several rules, regulations, and guidelines to keep track of from multiple organizations. If your responsibilities for lab safety are…


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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Role of Healthcare AI in the Lab: Today & Tomorrow

By Jason Bhan, MD, Co-Founder, Chief Medical Officer at Prognos  bio
Laboratories have traditionally directed their information technology (IT) focus to support their main business of testing. The IT infrastructure they have invested in allows them to…


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EMPLOYER COMPLIANCE

The New Overtime Rules are Put on Hold. What Does That Mean for You?

By Mike O’Brien  bio
As most of you know by now, I’m sure, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized a new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rule that, among other things, raises the minimum salary threshold required to qualify for…


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