Published on: November 11, 2005
CAP Applauds Bill to Suspend, Review Federal Cytology Proficiency Testing
Legislation responds to concerns about outdated program
Northfield, IL.—College of American Pathologists President Thomas M.
Sodeman, MD, FCAP, praised key House lawmakers today for legislation to
suspend and revise a federal program to evaluate physicians and other
professionals who perform Pap tests.
"The Proficiency Testing Improvement Act of 2005 sends a clear message from
Congress that the federal government’s badly outdated cytology proficiency
testing program must not continue until we can ensure it reflects the best
possible--and most current--science and laboratory practices," Dr. Sodeman
The Proficiency Testing Improvement Act of 2005, H.R. 4268, would suspend
cytology proficiency testing (PT) for one year and not allow it to resume
until the Secretary of Health and Human Services makes changes advocated by
the CAP and nearly 60 other national and state pathology societies. Rep.
Nathan Deal, R-Ga., chair of the House panel with jurisdiction over the PT
program, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, introduced the
legislation. Reps. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and Tom Price, R-Ga., added their names
as original co-sponsors.
The CAP argues that gynecologic cytology has improved greatly since the PT
program’s creation 13 years ago as part of the 1992 final regulation for the
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988. But all the while, the PT
provisions have stood still, resulting in a program today that fails to
recognize the many practice improvements.
"We fail to see how judging pathologists and other laboratory professionals by
standards that lag well behind current best laboratory practices promotes
quality care. In fact, it could jeopardize access to care by causing qualified
professionals to stop performing Pap tests," Dr. Sodeman said. "The PT
regulation, with its focus on individual performance, ignores the reality of
how laboratory medicine is practiced: that diagnoses often are reached through
collaboration among professionals. Further, the grading criteria in the PT
program have been surpassed by new standards universally recognized and used
in gynecologic cytology."
Dr. Sodeman thanked the bill’s sponsors and called on Congress to take action
to suspend the PT program before adjourning for the year.
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) is
a medical society serving about 16,000 physician members and the laboratory
community throughout the world. It is the world’s largest association
composed exclusively of pathologists and is widely considered the leader in
laboratory quality assurance. The CAP is an advocate for high quality and
cost-effective patient care.