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Regulatory closure of cervical cytology laboratories; recommendations for a public health response
  • Published Date:
    December 19, 1997
Filetype[PDF-242.96 KB]

  • Corporate Authors:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.) ; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), Public Health Practice Program Office., Division of Laboratory Systems. ; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (U.S.), Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
  • Pubmed ID:
  • Description:
    Introduction -- Cervical cancer screening in the United States -- Clinical quality assurance -- Laboratory regulations and enforcement -- Guidelines for a public health response to closure of a cervical cytology laboratory -- Conclusion -- References -- Appendix A. False negatives and false negative rates (FNRs): a review -- Appendix B. Automated rescreening of Pap smear slides

    The Papanicolaou test--or Pap smear test--is one of the most effective cancer screening tests available, and its ability to detect premalignant conditions has contributed to the decline in cervical cancer morbidity and mortality in the United States since its development in 1941. The success of this screening test has created confidence among women, health-care providers, and public health officials. However, this screening tool is not perfect: false-negative findings are a special concern because they can delay necessary follow-up of and treatment for women who have cervical cancer precursor lesions or invasive cervical cancer. Recent media attention has focused on cytology laboratories that have been closed as a result of deficiencies (including a high proportion of false-negative reports), and in some states legal action has been taken against individual laboratories. With the advent of revised federal regulations implementing the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988, scrutiny of the quality of cytology laboratory practice has increased. Between 1992 and 1994, a total of 10 cytology laboratories were closed by regulatory action of the Health Care Financing Administration because they were considered a threat to the public's health. Although such closures represent <1% of CLIA-certified cytology laboratories, the attendant publicity may trigger anxiety among women. Public health officials must respond to those concerns with appropriate clinical and community actions to ensure the health and safety of women whose Pap smears were evaluated by the closed laboratories. There are no published recommendations to help develop a public health response to the regulatory closure of a cervical cytology laboratory. In April 1994, the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Laboratory Directors, through a cooperative agreement with CDC, convened a working group to provide background on the current practice of clinical cervical cytology in the United States, summarize the CLIA regulations that established specific quality assurance standards for this specialty, and recommend actions that a public health agency may initiate to deliver a measured response to laboratory closings and other regulatory sanctions. This report includes this background and summary of the workshop. The working group made three recommendations: (a) public health officials should plan for a cervical cytology laboratory closure, then, when a laboratory is closed by regulatory action, they should (b) assess the severity of the situation and determine an appropriate response and (c) provide accurate, timely information to the public.

    Includes bibliographical references (p. 14-15).

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