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Historical Timeline

 To commemorate the CAP’s continual efforts to improve patient care as the world’s largest organization of board-certified pathologists, we developed the following timeline of CAP achievements and organizational milestones, as well as historically significant landmarks in the discipline of pathology at large.

1940's Genesis

The CAP was conceived by a group of pathologists who sought a national organization that could win recognition and respect for the specialty, while also addressing pathologist compensation issues nationally and improving laboratory medicine in the United States.

Frank W. Hartman, MD, of Michigan led the drive to create the CAP and was elected its first president.

  • 1946: College of American Pathologists (CAP) formed at organizational meeting in Chicago, December 12 and 13, 1946
  • 1947: Organizational meeting of CAP Board of Governors, January 4 and 5, 1947
  • 1947: Secretary's Newsletter begins publication
  • 1947: CAP incorporated in Illinois May 14, 1947
  • 1947: First general meeting on October 27 approves CAP Code of Ethics
  • 1949: First chemistry Survey conducted
The first issue of Secretary’s Newsletter, May 1947. Secretary’s Newsletter was the first monthly news publication of the College of American Pathologists
Frank W. Hartman, MD, the first president of the College of American Pathologists (1947-1949)
The earliest known group photograph of the CAP Board of Governors, October 1948

1950s Helping Define and Uplift the Profession

Pathology was recognized officially as the practice of medicine by an American Medical Association committee three years before the CAP was founded. Medical licensure was not required to practice pathology in many states and many labs were run by non-medical professionals.

Against that backdrop, a major focus of the CAP in its first full decade was to not only clearly define the practice of pathology, but to move the specialty forward.

  • 1952: Board of Governors adopts definition of pathology
  • 1952: First Legislative Committee established
  • 1954: First Manual of Ethical and Contractual Relations published
  • 1955: Iowa Hospital Association lawsuit legally establishes pathology as the practice of medicine; the CAP Board of Governors authorized the filing of a supporting brief in the case and funds from a voluntary solicitation of pathologists were also supplied
  • 1955: Board adopts surgical pathology policy
  • 1958: National Registry of Forensic Pathology founded with CAP support
  • 1959: Standards laboratory established to carry out testing related to certification of hemoglobin standards.
  • 1959: Suggested Guide for Procedures and Ethics Relating to Autopsies published
Junior membership card, 1957
Advertisement for standard solutions that appeared in the CAP Bulletin publication in September 1957
Cover of 1958 cytology brochure sent to all United States physicians

1960s Setting the Standard

The CAP has always been a leader in laboratory quality, particularly through its accreditation of laboratories. The organization established an inspection and accreditation program before Congress mandated one.

The 1960s were marked by CAP setting the standard for laboratory quality, as several important milestones were passed that have ensured greater public health for decades.

  • 1961: Ad Hoc Committee on Laboratory Accreditation submits report to Board of Governors recommending establishment of accreditation program
  • 1962: Board of Governors approves establishment of Inspection and Accreditation Program
  • 1963: CAP Foundation established
  • 1963: First comprehensive Surveys offered
  • 1964: First laboratories accredited under Inspection and Accreditation Program
  • 1965: First laboratory accreditation checklist compiled
  • 1968: Basic Survey accorded equivalency under CLIA-67 by US. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare
  • 1969: Inspection and Accreditation Program declared equivalent to CLIA-67 standards
Graphic representation of CAP membership benefits that appeared in the 1961 membership directory
Cover of the first National Comprehensive Laboratory Survey, 1963
First accreditation certificate granted by the College of American Pathologists, 1964

1970s Advocating for the Profession

The CAP has long served as the most prominent voice of pathologists and pathology. In the 1970s, the organization brought that voice to the capital city. Advocacy is a central tenet of what the CAP provides its thousands of members, and it has protected pathologists from potential harmful legislative action for decades.

  • 1970: Washington, DC, office opens at 1775 K Street, NW
  • 1970: Workload Recording Method inaugurated
  • 1975: First CAP Conference "Clinical Relevance in Microbiology" held at Aspen, Colorado
  • 1976: CAP efforts help to defeat bill to abolish Medicare coverage for professional component in laboratory testing
  • 1978: CAP establishes research fellowship at National Bureau of Standards
CAP representatives testify in a congressional hearing, circa 1976. Left to right: Jerald R. Schenken, MD, Dennis B. Dorsey, MD, and Gen. Joe M. Blumberg, MC, USA Ret.
Marjorie J. Williams, MD, played a pivotal role in the development of the Workload Recording Method as Chair of the CAP's Committee on Laboratory Management and Planning. The first edition of the workload recording manual appeared in print in September 1970
Alfred S. Ercolano, the first director of the CAP Washington office, served in that capacity from 1970 to 1991

1980s Sustaining the Profession

Advocacy continued to be a key activity of the CAP in the 1980s. At the same time, the CAP presses rolled; several publications of the CAP were born during this decade. Both publishing and advocacy have increased the footprint, influence and standing of the CAP since that time.

  • 1980: Arkansas lawsuit filed by CAP prevents implementation of excessively restrictive Medicare reimbursement regulations proposed by Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA)
  • 1981 Digest of 1970-1980 Surveys data published as Data ReCAP
  • 1982: Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Amendments of 1982 (TEFRA) enacted, proposing severe new restrictions on Medicare payment for laboratory services. The following year, a CAP lawsuit challenged TEFRA regulations, resulting in significant modifications. A Joint Pathology Task Force was also established to coordinate the profession's response to TEFRA
  • 1984: CAP begins joint publication of Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine with the American Medical Association
  • 1984: CAP Archives of Standards published
  • 1986: Effective Laboratory Testing published
  • 1986: First cancer specimen reporting guidelines published in Pathologist
  • 1986: Introductory issue of CAP Today published. Regular publication of CAP Today commenced in January 1987.
  • 1988: Q-PROBES program initiated. Q-PROBES are short-term studies that provide a one-time comprehensive assessment of key processes to aid in quality improvement efforts in a participant laboratory.
  • 1988: CAP mounts public information campaign on cytology in response to Wall Street Journal "Pap mill" exposé
Introductory issue of CAP Today, November 1986. Regular publication of CAP Today commenced in January 1987

Participants in a microcomputer training workshop, summer 1982

Brochure introducing the Q-PROBES program, circa 1988

1990s Enhancing the Profession in the Digital World

After a decade of publishing firsts, the CAP cemented itself in the digital space in the 1990s. Highlighted by the launch of cap.org, the CAP’s Information Services Strategic Plan changed the way the organization communicated with its members and the world. During this decade, the CAP also saw significant growth and accomplishment in its accreditation programs.

  • 1992: Laboratory Management Index Program (LMIP®) replaces Workload Recording Method. LMIP® is based on a standardized chart of accounts that more accurately identifies all costs, and from which have been developed a series of ratios to measure management performance
  • 1992: PathPAC, the CAP political action committee, formed
  • 1993: CAP reaches formal agreement with Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) on equivalency of CAP laboratory inspection for JCAHO accreditation
  • 1994: CAP achieves deeming authority for LAP under CLIA-88.
  • 1995: CAP assumes leadership for the publication of Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
  • 1996: Information Services Strategic Plan adopted
  • 1996: CAP's web site, www.cap.org, is launched
  • 1998: CAP Extends its accreditation program to remote limited service laboratories and laboratory systems

2000s Refreshing the CAP for Tomorrow's Challenges

Securely in the digital age, the CAP has used the new century to look ahead. The Laboratory Accreditation Program underwent expansive improvements while the organization as a whole dived into significant initiatives to advance the specialty and to reinvigorate the brand.

Early in the century, the "See, Test & Treat" program was introduced and in years since has provided thousands of underserved women and their families with important screenings, other medical services and critical information to help maintain good health.

  • 2001: First See, Test & Treat event held to offer free cervical cancer screenings to underserved women
  • 2005: CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program announces new initiatives including mandatory inspector training and unannounced inspections, as well as formal assessment of laboratory director performance
  • 2007: Multiyear initiative to advance the specialty of pathology introduced
  • 2008: Launch of CAP 15189℠, a voluntary, non-regulated accreditation to the ISO 15189:2007 Standard as published by the International Standards Organization. CAP 15189℠ does not replace, but rather complements CAP's CLIA-based accreditation
  • 2009: Laboratory Accreditation Program begins a multiyear redesign to improve quality and flexibility
  • 2011: Launch of Biorepository Accreditation Program designed to improve the quality and consistency of facilities that collect, process, store, and distribute biospecimens for research
  • 2014: Brand invigoration, including a refreshed identity and expression system (including a new CAP logo), and comprehensive brand strategy
CAP 15189℠ brochure, circa 2009
See, Test & Treat brochure, circa 2011
New CAP logo developed during brand redesign, 2014