Working Stiff by Dr. Judy Melinek hits bestseller list; death penalty off table for alleged Sonnier murder mastermind

Dr. Judy Melinek (PathologyExpert, Inc)

Dr. Judy Melinek (PathologyExpert, Inc)

Working Stiff

Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist based in San Francisco, has written a book entitled Working Stiff which details her two years of training as a forensic pathology and forensic neuropathology fellow at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City from July 2001 to June 2003.

Working Stiff has received some very positive reviews from USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, and has earned 4 1/2 stars so far from readers on Amazon.

In addition, Working Stiff this week hit #21 on the New York Times bestseller list for E-book nonfiction.

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College of American Pathologists 2012 financial information

I recently came across a tax document (Form 990) that the College of American Pathologists (CAP) filed in 2013 for the year 2012.  This information is available to the public, but I personally had never seen it before now, and I am guessing many others have not either. The form puts into perspective just how large the CAP is and also provides some insight into its inner financial workings. I looked for the 2013 form, but could not find it.  This is most likely because the CAP did not … [Continue reading]

Physician sues Quest Diagnostics for forensic drug test fiasco

Massachusetts physician Dr. Michael Langan has filed a lawsuit against Quest Diagnostics, alleging the lab giant was negligent and engaged in fraud and deceit in its handling of his forensic drug test sample. United States Drug Testing Laboratories (USDTL) and Physician Health Services (PHS), an organization which monitors physicians with substance abuse issues, are also named as defendants in the suit. Allegations Dr. Langan, who worked as a geriatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital for … [Continue reading]

Shawn Parcells makes national news with Michael Brown autopsy

Shawn Parcells and Dr. Michael Baden (NYT)

Mr. Shawn Parcells made national news this week when he participated in the second autopsy of Michael Brown, whose shooting death by local police on August 9, 2014 sparked significant ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Background I first wrote about Mr. Parcells in May 2013 after an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discussed concerns some Missouri prosecuting attorneys and county coroners had that Mr. Parcells, who only has a Bachelor's degree, was performing unsupervised forensic … [Continue reading]

My apologies

I had to go out of town with little notice, and as a result, I will not be able to write any new articles until Thursday the 21st or Friday the 22nd. So sorry. … [Continue reading]

Dermatologists feeling the heat for anatomic pathology self-referral?

Dermatology Times

There are three articles in the August edition of Dermatology Times that discuss self-referral of anatomic pathology services including in-office laboratories, client billing and markups.  The articles indicate the dermatology community is concerned about inappropriate anatomic pathology self-referral within its ranks as well as the fact the federal government is paying so much attention to in-office laboratories. The articles are entitled "Dermatopathology sits in healthcare reform … [Continue reading]

A Mid-Year Review of the Sample Impact Analysis for the 88342/G0461 and Changes by Mick Raich of Vachette Pathology

Global IHC Tracking

Back in January of this year, Mr. Mick Raich, founder and president of Vachette Pathology, projected what the 2014 changes in reimbursement for immunohistochemistry would mean for two of his clients, and he was kind enough to share that projection with us.  Just yesterday Mr. Raich sent me a follow-up article which looks at how six months of real reimbursement data for those two groups compare with his projections. A Mid-Year Review of the Sample Impact Analysis for the 88342/G0461 and … [Continue reading]

ASCP seeks members’ opinions on Palmetto action; James Brady death ruled homicide

James Brady

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is asking for its members' input on how the ASCP should proceed regarding recent actions by Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) Palmetto GBA regarding ancillary stain overutilization/fraud. In other news, former Reagan press secretary James Brady's recent death has been ruled a homicide, which has generated some interest in the media about manner of death determinations. ASCP/Palmetto In its August 4th ePolicy news, the ASCP opened a … [Continue reading]

Pathology Blawg News Roundup for August 8, 2014

Illinois Governor issues amendatory veto of anti-markup legislation Illinois governor Pat Quinn has issued an amendatory veto of SB1630, leaving the fate of the anti-markup legislation unclear. SB1630, which was passed by the Illinois Senate 51-4 on April 1, 2014, and the Illinois House 91-16-1 on May 8, 2014, was sent to Governor Pat Quinn on June 6th. He had until August 5th to either sign or veto the bill, and he chose to veto it.  Alternately, he could have done nothing and the bill … [Continue reading]

LabCorp suffers setback in Pap test negligence suit

The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has reversed a district court's ruling in a Pap test negligence suit filed by a woman who claims she developed metastatic cervical cancer due to multiple misreadings of her Pap tests by LabCorp employees. In its decision, the appellate court noted its disagreement with the district court's reliance upon the Pap test litigation guidelines put together by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the American Society of Cytopathology … [Continue reading]

Jury finds oncologist negligent for withholding crucial information from pathologist

A Massachusetts jury found an oncologist was negligent when he failed to provide pertinent clinical information to a hematopathologist that may have prevented an erroneous diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a patient who subsequently died from treatment complications. The jury rendered its decision back in March but I only first heard about the case last week when a reader sent me the July 25th newsletter from the ECRI Institute. That newsletter referred to an article on page 14 of the … [Continue reading]

FDA announces intent to regulate laboratory-developed tests

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced it intends to release draft guidance on the regulation of laboratory-developed tests (LDTs). Readers will recall five US senators sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget earlier this month, requesting the office release guidance for the regulation of LDTs drafted by the FDA. According to the FDA's press release, it intends publish a proposed risk-based oversight framework for laboratory developed tests … [Continue reading]

$15.8 million award against LabCorp for Pap smear error cut to $4.4 million

A district judge in Florida has reduced the damages a jury ordered LabCorp to pay to the family of a woman who died of cervical cancer from $15.8 million to $4.4 million. I first wrote about this case back in April, not long after the jury rendered its verdict.  Briefly, 33 year old Darian Wisekal began feeling "ill" in 2007.  A workup in 2008 included a Pap smear, which was reportedly read as negative by a LabCorp cytotechnologist. Mrs. Wisekal was due to have another Pap smear in 2009, … [Continue reading]

College of American Pathologists files formal complaint with CMS about Palmetto GBA

CAP logo

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) has filed a formal complaint with the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about the recent attempts by Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) Palmetto GBA to tamp down pathology fraud. The complaint focuses on an educational article about appropriate utilization of ancillary stains for gastric biopsies that Palmetto posted on its website on May 30, 2014. Briefly, Palmetto, citing recent literature articles, stated ancillary … [Continue reading]

California Clinical Laboratory Association fires back at HHS secretary


The California Clinical Laboratory Association (CCLA) has filed its opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Motion to Dismiss (MTD) the CCLA's lawsuit that alleges local coverage determinations (LCDs) are unconstitutional. I first discussed this case in early May, a couple of weeks after the CCLA filed suit, and again just a few days ago after HHS filed its MTD.  Please see those posts for more information. What follows is a summary of the CCLA's response to … [Continue reading]