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June 10, 1988

Laboratories May Face More Strict Controls

JAMA. 1988;259(22):3230. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720220006005

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CONGRESS IS DRAFTING legislation that could provide stricter controls over clinical laboratories.

This follows testimony in recent weeks that included allegations of laboratories' overcharging for tests, using two fee schedules (one for third-party payers and another for physicians), giving kickbacks to increase business, and pressuring technologists to screen as many as 200 Papanicolaou smears a day (the American Society for Cytotechnology recommends that no more than 70 to 90 such slides be read in a 24-hour period) as well as allowing them to take slides home to read (a violation of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act and Medicare regulations).

These allegations were aired in front of congressmen Ron Wyden (D-Ore) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich) and senators Carl Levin (D-Mich) and William S. Cohen (R-Me). Out of them has come at least one legislative proposal, by Congressman Wyden, that includes banning solicitations for laboratory specimens, requiring annual inspections of laboratories,