Posted by Sten Westgard, MS
If you attended the 2015 AACC/ASCLS annual exhibition, you may have had a harder time finding our booth. We were located at the intersection of secluded and out of view, behind the vast continent-sized booths of the few remaining diagnostic mega-manufacturers, at the far end of the hall.
Nevertheless, it was a good show for Westgard QC. See our highlights, after the jump...
First, let me congratulate my good friend and colleague, Dr. Nils Persons, for successfully conducting another year of the Method Validation workshops. This was the 38 or 39th year, depending on how you count, of the Method Validation workshop. It's still the longest running workshop series that the AACC offers. We would have been joined by our colleague Dave Koch, but he happens to be President of the AACC this year, so he was busy doing other things.
We made major changes to the material to accommodate not only the split-day format that is now de rigueur for workshops at AACC, but also the evolving regulatory environment as well. More than 30 years ago, there was really only one way to validate a method. Now there are short protocols to simply make sure the method is performing "as claimed" by the manufacturer, and more complicated protocols which cover the "traditional" method of validation as well as the more complex requirements of off-label use, lab-developed tests, etc. I am lucky to have Nils co-present at this workshop, since he has such a rich experience of working with labs in the real world.
We had the additional challenge of fighting the heat this year. The workshop room was connected to the exhibit hall, which was open to Atlanta's heat and humidity, and a full set of glass windows allowed that heat to seep into our room. The air conditioning struggled mightily, and by the end of the day the temperature had reached the "normal" chill of what you expect from a convention room. But now we truly know what it's like to teach a "hot topic."
The AACC/ASCLS meeting is always a great opportunity for my father to re-connect with his now far-flung students and colleagues. Dr. Sharon Ehrmeyer is pictured below with her new 2015 edition of the Poor Lab's Guide, one of the few reference books out there that takes a serious look at IQCPs.
AACC used to be the world's gathering place for diagnostics, but the expansion of conferences in Asia, the Middle-East, and other parts of the world mean that fewer foreign visitors are coming to the US convention. Particularly so this year, since the IFCC / EFLM / WorldLab meeting was in Paris this June. Hard to blame anyone who chose Paris over Atlanta (although, to be fair, Atlanta did not have any Taxi strikes during the convention). But there were still a number of foreign visitors, including several friends from distant shores.
Finally, I had the pleasure of being co-authors on two posters, in particular one with Dr. Navapun from Bumrungrad International Hospital of Bangkok, Thailand. The poster she presented showed the continuous improvement results of the Sigma VP[tm] program in her laboratory. In Paris she had reported that some of her pre-analytical quality indicators were in fact achieving Six Sigma. In Atlanta she reported that the analytical methods were continuing to improve. We hope to share both posters with you soon.
Again, this is just a quick overview of all the happenings. Thanks to all who found our booth and visited us. Thanks to those who entered our raffle. Thanks to everyone who still cares about quality in this crazy healthcare marketplace