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Best of '84: the winners of MLO's article awards contest.

Picture the clinical laboratory as a whirring engine, a lean staff pressing the right buttons, test orders flowing in smoothly, results quickly goint out.... That kind of impression lingers after sampling the record number of entries in MLO's 1984 Article Awards Contest.

Streamlining operations, making the budget go further, and providing quality service despite cost pressures are on many minds as the effects of prospective payment hit home. A wealth of articles--on productivity improvements, revised staffing approaches, financial planning and monitoring, data processing, and other management concerns of the 1980s--bear this out. Manuscripts that didn't mention DRGs at least once were the exception!

Nevertheless, our editor-judges noted as much variety as ever in topics, including new methods of staff development, evaluating instruments, presenting continuing education, and carrying out quality control and safety programs. Fascination with microcomputer applications, a trend detected in last year's contest, is still high.

One of the most extensive examples of laboratory self-examination occasioned by prospective payment has to be the project described by our $1,000 First Prize winner, Carol J. Turner, MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA), administrative technologist at Middletown Regional Hospital, Middletown, Ohio. "The Audit: An Annual Physical for the Laboratory," appearing in this issue, describes a thorough study of staffing, productivity, workload, test costs, ordering patterns, instruments, budgeting, and more.

A highly detailed report proved to hospital administration that the lab was doing a good job. Adjustments in a number of areas were also indicated, and now the lab is doing an even better job.

Second Prize of $500 is shared by Patricia C. Harris, M.S., SM(AAM), chief microbiologist, General Hospital of Everett, Everett, Wash., and Lynn B. Sealey, MT(ASCP), microbiology supervisor, Northwest Hospital, Seattle, for their October article, "Herpes Culturing: Expanding Outpatient Lab Services." By going in-house with herpes simplex virus testing, their hospital labs offered physicians' offices faster, more convenient service than area reference facilities. Test requests climbed rapidly.

Here are the 10 Honorable Mention winners, who will each receive $100:

* Anne M. Biddle, MT(ASCP)-SBB, Minneapolis. A hospital's pilot program in human resource planning sought methods of defining staffing requirements under DRGs, providing growth opportunities for employees, and introducing orderly succession in management. The laboratory found that the project enhanced job security and satisfaction. "A Strategic Plan for Staff Development" is scheduled for the January 1985 issue of MLO.

* Patricia J. Ellinger, M.S. Ed., MT(ASCP), and Allison Rose, MT(ASCP), DuQuoin, Ill. Laboratory personnel in the southern part of this state lacked the time and funds to attend continuing education programs and workshops in distant cities. So they organized their own learning group and staged sessions within the area. The association is described in "Bringing CE Seminars Closer to Home," which will run in a forthcoming issue.

* Shannon S. Harper, M.P.A., MT(ASCP)SBB, Mobile, Ala. "The Key to Predicting Laboratory Workload" solves a mystery: Why was the author's lab as busy as ever even though hospital census had declined? The article appears in this issue.

* Patricia R. Kaufman, SM(ASCP), and Lynn M. Little, Ph.D., Austin, Texas. "Safety in the Microbiology Laboratory" is a wide-ranging look at hazards and safeguards by two specialists in a state bureau of laboratories. Watch for the article in an upcoming issue.

* Connie Manus, MT(ASCP), Concord, N.H. With some computer assistance, this author's chemistry section closely monitors supply levels and payments to vendors. Rush orders have been eliminated, and actual spending is more in line with budgeted expenses. Read about "An Inventory Control and Money Management System That Works" in next month's issue.

* Janet M. NAss, MT(ASCP), Shawano, Wis. Miscellaneous tasks fell to a new lab supervisor only because no one else knew they had to be done. She detailed these tasks in a supervisory handbook, which supplies work for technologists in slack periods and also gives them insight into management responsibilities. "When Technologists Ask What Else Needs To Be Done" will appear soon.

* Margaret A. Purdy, M.S., MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA), Lansing, Mich. When several badly injured victims of a highway accident were rushed simultaneously into the hospital ER, the lab had a chance to test its emergency response plan. Deficiencies were uncovered--and corrected. "Emergency Alert! A Plan for Prompt Lab Response" is slated for early 1985.

* Florence Record, RN, Oak Lawn, Ill. Nursing and lab staffs often clash over expectations and needs. In a new position--nurse coordinator for pathology and laboratory medicine--the author was able to greatly improve communication between the two departments. "A Go-Between for Better Nursing-Lab Relations" is scheduled for a 1985 issue.

* Sister M. Marcia Rydzewski, M.Ed., MT(ASCP), Port Charlotte, Fla. Here are two investigative tales from a microbiology lab, one looking into a changing pattern of bacterial resistances and the other into a seemingly sharp increase in group D Streptococcus infections. "Why Did Our Suddenly Change?" is on tap for the new year.

* William C. Schraft, M.D., and Donald E. Carniato, M.S., MT(ASCP), New Rochelle, N.Y. Their October article, "Controlling Reference Testing Costs," showed how group purchasing discounts, computerized test audits, and pathologist consultations with clinicians can slash send-out expenditures. A drop of 31 per cent was recorded the first year.
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Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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