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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 organizational achievements and milestones, as well as historically significant landmarks in the discipline of pathology at large. Furthermore, in celebration of the CAP’s 75th anniversary, we are pleased to present two digital publications documenting the organization’s history: In Pursuit of Excellence, covering 1946–1996, and the newly published In Further Pursuit of Excellence, covering 1997–2021.

Founding the CAP

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.

The earliest known group photograph of the CAP Board of Governors, October 1948

Frank W. Hartman, MD, led the drive to create the CAP and served as its first president from 1947–1949.

1940s

1946

College of American Pathologists (CAP) formed at organizational meeting in Chicago, December 12 and 13, 1946. Frank W. Hartman, MD, is elected as the first president

1947

Organizational meeting of CAP Board of Governors, January 4 and 5, 1947

1947

“Secretary's Newsletter,” a monthly news communication for members, begins publication

1947

CAP incorporated in Illinois May 14, 1947

1947

First general meeting on October 27 approves CAP Code of Ethics

1949

First CAP chemistry Survey conducted to assess the accuracy of laboratory determinations. Some 500 participants returned results

Defining and Uplifting the Profession

Three years before the CAP was founded, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates recognized pathology as the practice of medicine. Medical licensure was not required to practice pathology in many states, and many labs were run by non-medical professionals.

Against this 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.

Junior membership card, 1957

Cover of 1958 cytology brochure sent to all United States physicians. It features Dr. Georgios Papanicolaou, who was appointed an honorary fellow by the CAP Board in 1956.

Throughout the 1950s, the CAP supported other organizations’ efforts in advancing cytology, developed standards and suggested curriculum for schools of cytotechnology, and produced recommended criteria for certification of cytotechnologists. In 1956, the CAP assumed responsibility for the accreditation of cytology training programs on an interim basis, with the American Society for Clinical Pathology assuming responsibility for accreditation in 1961.

One way that the CAP informed physicians about cytology’s benefits was through an educational brochure detailing cytology guidelines. The brochure was sent to every physician in the United States, as well as to medical students. It was also included as an insert in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons and was distributed in Canada. The total cost to the CAP for this endeavor was $29,000 (approx. $259,000 in 2020).

1950s

1950

First CAP cytology policy statement released. The CAP played a central role in the development of the cytology discipline

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

1957

Board approves creation of the Assembly, a body comprised of member representatives, which later became the House of Delegates

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

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.

Throughout the 1960s, the CAP worked to set the standard for laboratory quality. Several important milestones were passed ensuring greater public health for decades.

First accreditation certificate granted by the College of American Pathologists, 1964

Cover of the first National Comprehensive Laboratory Survey, 1963

1960s

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

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 nation’s capital. Advocacy is a central tenet of what the CAP provides its thousands of members, and it has protected pathologists from potentially harmful legislative action for decades.

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 developing the Workload Recording Method as chair of the Committee on Laboratory Management and Planning.

1970s

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 defeat bill to abolish Medicare coverage for professional component in laboratory testing

1978

CAP establishes research fellowship at National Bureau of Standards

Sustaining the Profession

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

Introductory issue of CAP Today, November 1986

Newly elected officers of the first Residents Forum, 1988. E. Randy Eckert, MD (standing, right), immediate past chair of the AMA Resident Physicians Section, was the Forum advisor.

The Residents Forum was created with a structure and operating features similar to the House of Delegates. It was intended to give residents a voice in organized pathology, promote involvement of young leaders in CAP activities early in their careers, and establish a network for pathology residents.

Cynthia L. Reid, MD, resident delegate to the CAP House of Delegates, was elected chairman at the Forum’s first meeting in fall 1988. The Forum chair attended meetings of the HOD and in 1996 became an ex officio voting member of the Board of Governors. In support of the Residents Forum’s intention to interest young pathologists in the CAP and to identify them for leadership roles, the Board voted to allocate budget for the addition of a Junior Member position on most CAP committees.

1980s

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

1983

CAP lawsuit results in significant modifications to the severe restrictions on Medicare payment for laboratory services imposed by the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Amendments of 1982 (TEFRA). A Joint Pathology Task Force is 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 “Archive 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 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

1988

Board approves development of the Residents Forum

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.

The first iteration of the informational website

A brochure for PathPAC, the CAP’s political action committee, circa 1992

1990s

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, is 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 its Laboratory Accreditation Program 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 website, cap.org, is launched

1998

CAP extends its accreditation program to remote limited service laboratories and laboratory systems

1996

The CAP celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding and, the following year, publishes a history of its first 50 years entitled In Pursuit of Excellence: The College of American Pathologists, 1946-1996

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 undertook significant initiatives to advance the specialty and reinvigorate the brand.

The See, Test & Treat® program was introduced early in the century, and in the years since it has provided thousands of underserved women with preventative screenings and educational information to help them maintain good health.

See, Test & Treat brochure, circa 2011

CAP 15189℠ brochure, circa 2009

2000s

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

CAP 15189℠ launches as 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

Biorepository Accreditation Program launched to improve the quality and consistency of facilities that collect, process, store, and distribute biospecimens for research

2014

Brand invigoration efforts take place, including a refreshed identity and expression system (including a new CAP logo), and a comprehensive brand strategy

2017

Pathologists Quality Registry, a qualified clinical data registry, is launched. The registry assists in improving practice performance through benchmarking against other pathology practices and makes it easier for pathologists to qualify for bonuses and avoid penalties under Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System, part of the Quality Payment Program

2020

CAP provides members and customers with resources to confront COVID-19 and advocates for federal regulatory flexibility and financial relief

2020

CAP introduces three SARS-CoV-2 PT programs (molecular, serology, and antigen) and one Quality Cross Check program in molecular

2021

CAP celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding and publishes a history of its first 75 years entitled In Further Pursuit of Excellence: The College of American Pathologists, 1946–-2021.

2021

Hear from the presidents of the CAP

  • CAP at 75: Leading Through Change—Then and Now

  • CAP at 75: Commemorating a Rich History

  • CAP at 75: Leading Medicine During a Pandemic

  • CAP at 75: Working Arm-in-Arm to Transform Pathology

  • CAP at 75: Leading Through Transformation

The earliest known group photograph of the CAP Board of Governors, October 1948

Founding the CAP

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.

1940s

1946

College of American Pathologists (CAP) formed at organizational meeting in Chicago, December 12 and 13, 1946. Frank W. Hartman, MD, is elected as the first president

Frank W. Hartman, MD, led the drive to create the CAP and served as its first president from 1947–1949.

1947

Organizational meeting of CAP Board of Governors, January 4 and 5, 1947

1947

“Secretary's Newsletter,” a monthly news communication for members, begins publication

1947

CAP incorporated in Illinois May 14, 1947

1947

First general meeting on October 27 approves CAP Code of Ethics

1949

First CAP chemistry Survey conducted to assess the accuracy of laboratory determinations. Some 500 participants returned results

Junior membership card, 1957

Defining and Uplifting the Profession

Three years before the CAP was founded, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates recognized pathology as the practice of medicine. Medical licensure was not required to practice pathology in many states, and many labs were run by non-medical professionals.

Against this 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.

1950s

1950

First CAP cytology policy statement released. The CAP played a central role in the development of the cytology discipline

Cover of 1958 cytology brochure sent to all United States physicians. It features Dr. Georgios Papanicolaou, who was appointed an honorary fellow by the CAP Board in 1956.

Throughout the 1950s, the CAP supported other organizations’ efforts in advancing cytology, developed standards and suggested curriculum for schools of cytotechnology, and produced recommended criteria for certification of cytotechnologists. In 1956, the CAP assumed responsibility for the accreditation of cytology training programs on an interim basis, with the American Society for Clinical Pathology assuming responsibility for accreditation in 1961.

One way that the CAP informed physicians about cytology’s benefits was through an educational brochure detailing cytology guidelines. The brochure was sent to every physician in the United States, as well as to medical students. It was also included as an insert in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons and was distributed in Canada. The total cost to the CAP for this endeavor was $29,000 (approx. $259,000 in 2020).

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

1957

Board approves creation of the Assembly, a body comprised of member representatives, which later became the House of Delegates

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

First accreditation certificate granted by the College of American Pathologists, 1964

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.

Throughout the 1960s, the CAP worked to set the standard for laboratory quality. Several important milestones were passed ensuring greater public health for decades.

1960s

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

Cover of the first National Comprehensive Laboratory Survey, 1963

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

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.

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 nation’s capital. Advocacy is a central tenet of what the CAP provides its thousands of members, and it has protected pathologists from potentially harmful legislative action for decades.

1970s

1970

Washington, DC, office opens at 1775 K Street, NW

1970

Workload Recording Method inaugurated

Marjorie J. Williams, MD, played a pivotal role in developing the Workload Recording Method as chair of the Committee on Laboratory Management and Planning.

1975

First CAP conference, "Clinical Relevance in Microbiology," held at Aspen, Colorado

1976

CAP efforts help defeat bill to abolish Medicare coverage for professional component in laboratory testing

1978

CAP establishes research fellowship at National Bureau of Standards

Introductory issue of CAP Today, November 1986

Sustaining the Profession

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

1980s

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

1983

CAP lawsuit results in significant modifications to the severe restrictions on Medicare payment for laboratory services imposed by the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Amendments of 1982 (TEFRA). A Joint Pathology Task Force is 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 “Archive 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 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

1988

Board approves development of the Residents Forum

Newly elected officers of the first Residents Forum, 1988. E. Randy Eckert, MD (standing, right), immediate past chair of the AMA Resident Physicians Section, was the Forum advisor.

The Residents Forum was created with a structure and operating features similar to the House of Delegates. It was intended to give residents a voice in organized pathology, promote involvement of young leaders in CAP activities early in their careers, and establish a network for pathology residents.

Cynthia L. Reid, MD, resident delegate to the CAP House of Delegates, was elected chairman at the Forum’s first meeting in fall 1988. The Forum chair attended meetings of the HOD and in 1996 became an ex officio voting member of the Board of Governors. In support of the Residents Forum’s intention to interest young pathologists in the CAP and to identify them for leadership roles, the Board voted to allocate budget for the addition of a Junior Member position on most CAP committees.

The first iteration of the informational website

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.

1990s

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, is formed

A brochure for PathPAC, the CAP’s political action committee, circa 1992

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 its Laboratory Accreditation Program 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 website, cap.org, is launched

1998

CAP extends its accreditation program to remote limited service laboratories and laboratory systems

1996

The CAP celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding and, the following year, publishes a history of its first 50 years entitled In Pursuit of Excellence: The College of American Pathologists, 1946-1996

See, Test & Treat brochure, circa 2011

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 undertook significant initiatives to advance the specialty and reinvigorate the brand.

The See, Test & Treat® program was introduced early in the century, and in the years since it has provided thousands of underserved women with preventative screenings and educational information to help them maintain good health.

2000s

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

CAP 15189℠ launches as 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

CAP 15189℠ brochure, circa 2009

2009

Laboratory Accreditation Program begins a multiyear redesign to improve quality and flexibility

2011

Biorepository Accreditation Program launched to improve the quality and consistency of facilities that collect, process, store, and distribute biospecimens for research

2014

Brand invigoration efforts take place, including a refreshed identity and expression system (including a new CAP logo), and a comprehensive brand strategy

2017

Pathologists Quality Registry, a qualified clinical data registry, is launched. The registry assists in improving practice performance through benchmarking against other pathology practices and makes it easier for pathologists to qualify for bonuses and avoid penalties under Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System, part of the Quality Payment Program

2020

CAP provides members and customers with resources to confront COVID-19 and advocates for federal regulatory flexibility and financial relief

2020

CAP introduces three SARS-CoV-2 PT programs (molecular, serology, and antigen) and one Quality Cross Check program in molecular

2021

CAP celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding and publishes a history of its first 75 years entitled In Further Pursuit of Excellence: The College of American Pathologists, 1946–-2021.

2021

Hear from the presidents of the CAP

  • CAP at 75: Leading Through Change—Then and Now

  • CAP at 75: Commemorating a Rich History

  • CAP at 75: Leading Medicine During a Pandemic

  • CAP at 75: Working Arm-in-Arm to Transform Pathology

  • CAP at 75: Leading Through Transformation