Laboratory Reporting of Notifiable Conditions to Public Health – A Perfect System?

November 27, 2018

Many providers assume laboratory reporting of notifiable conditions is automatic and comprehensive, eliminating the need for reporting from provider offices. While that is true in many instances, it is important to be aware of reporting requirements. Public health uses notifiable conditions information to aid in investigations, detect outbreaks, and for surveillance purposes, among other things.

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Laboratory Diagnosis of Syphilis Infection Remains a Challenge – Here’s Help

November 27, 2018

Syphilis infections (Treponema pallidum) continue to be reported at a high rate, both nationally as well as in Spokane County. Unless a person is symptomatic with primary lesions present on exam, syphilis must be confirmed through serologic testing. Unfortunately, there is no singular diagnostic test available for syphilis. Instead, we rely on multiple serologic tests in combination to confirm a syphilis diagnosis. Historically, two testing algorithms have been used.

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Washington State Public Health Lab – A Resource that Requires Prior Approval

November 27, 2018

The Washington State Public Health Lab (WA PHL) is a laboratory operated by the Washington State Department of Health in Shoreline, WA. In addition to standard newborn screening and testing for biohazardous materials, WA PHL offers testing for a wide variety of organisms of public health concern. Both public health practitioners and medical providers can order testing through WA PHL; however, specimens to be shipped to WA PHL by medical providers must first obtain approval from their local health department prior to shipping. Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Epidemiology staff can be reached at 509.324.1442 during normal business hours and 509.869.3133 after hours.

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Sensitivity, Specificity, Positive Predictive Value… Oh My!

November 26, 2018

With the definitions of sensitivity and specificity often erroneously used interchangeably, it is easy to forget their true meaning. It is important to take into account a test’s sensitivity and specificity, as well as positive and negative predictive values, when making testing decisions and subsequent diagnoses.

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