Published on November 11,
CAP Applauds Bill to Suspend, Review Federal Cytology
Legislation responds to concerns about outdated
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from Congress that the federal government’s badly outdated cytology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 said.
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.