d02a.JPG (19254 bytes)Kodak to purchase Algotec
Eastman Kodak Co (Rochester, NY) announced that it will acquire Algotec Systems (Duluth, Ga), a developer of advanced PACS. Kodak claims the move will improve its competitive position in the growing market for PACS, which enable radiology departments worldwide to digitally manage and store medical images and information.

Kodak plans to acquire privately held Algotec for $42.5 million in cash and expects the transaction to close by the end of 2003. Algotec, whose technology is a leader in the PACS industry, will become the center for developing Kodak medical PACS products and 3D imaging technologies.

Algotec and Kodak have had a close relationship since May 2002. The two companies signed an agreement under which Algotec began providing supplemental software for the development of Kodak’s PACS products. The Kodak DirectView PACS System 5, currently being integrated into the market, is the result of the recent collaboration.

Having emerged as Kodak’s principal supplier of PACS technology, Algotec will become part of the Kodak family as a wholly owned subsidiary within the Kodak Health Imaging Group’s R&D operation. Algotec will continue to support product development for Health Imaging’s Healthcare Information Systems (HCIS) business. The Algotec team will help Kodak augment its leadership in PACS.

VitalWorks to acquire AMICAS Inc
VitalWorks Inc (Ridgefield, Conn), a provider of health care information management technology, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire AMICAS Inc (Boston), a developer of Web-based diagnostic image archiving and communication systems. According to VitalWorks, the acquisition of AMICAS will enable the company to offer clients a comprehensive and integrated information and image management solution, incorporating the key components of a complete radiology data management system.

VitalWorks will acquire AMICAS for $30 million in cash, as well as an additional $25 million based on attainment of specified earning targets throughout 2004. Upon completion of the acquisition, AMICAS will become a wholly owned subsidiary of VitalWorks. Additionally, AMICAS will retain all 60 of its employees and its headquarters in Boston.

FONAR receives Deloitte & Touche recognition
FONAR Corp (Melville, NY), has been named one of Long Island’s fastest-growing technology companies in the Deloitte & Touche “Fast 50” program. This marks the fifth consecutive year that FONAR has been named to the program, designating it to The Technology Gold Circle. Deloitte ranked FONAR 22nd among the “Fast 50,” achieving 62% revenue growth over five years.

“In an era where technology companies come and go, making the Deloitte Long Island Fast 50 is a testament to a company’s vision that allows growth over 5 years,” said Adam Weisman, managing partner of the Long Island office of Deloitte. “FONAR Corp’s leadership has the right stuff for growth, and Deloitte salutes the company’s accomplishments.”

The prestigious “Technology Fast 50” Program is a ranking of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies on Long Island. Rankings are based on the percentage of growth in fiscal year revenues from 1998–2002.

d02a.JPG (19254 bytes)FDA clears new mobile X-ray system
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently cleared the Mobilett XP and Mobilett XP Hybrid from Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pa) for use in the US market. The machines gained government approval due to major improvements in design efficiency, safety features, and ease-of-use for the operator.

The systems exhibit a high-radiographic output, which enables short exposure times, virtually eliminating the motion blurring that might otherwise occur. Although this system supports a range of applications, sharp images made possible by the short exposure times enhance its utility in coronary care and neonatal units.

The units have a compact size and lightweight construction, weighing half as much as comparable mobile X-ray generators on the market. This design allows the operator to move the system around obstacles easily. Featuring a hybrid power system, the Mobilett XP Hybrid is equipped to operate from either its long-life rechargeable batteries or from a conventional wall power supply.

The Mobillett XP platform can be positioned for imaging in a variety of positions, including recumbent, sitting, and others. The platform’s short wheelbase and polyur-ethane tire help to overcome rolling resistance, allowing the system to glide easily on most surfaces. For additional operator convenience or special transport conditions, such as steep inclines, door thresholds, or thick carpeting, a power-assist feature eases the stress of movement.

ASRT study shows radiographers still in short supply
According to a new study by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), the number of first-year students enrolled in the nation’s radiography, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine programs increased again in 2003; however, thousands of other potential students were turned away because educational programs were at full capacity.

Radiation therapy programs showed the greatest percentage of growth in student numbers, said Dick Harris, ASRT’s director of research. The study estimated that 1,274 first-year students were enrolled in radiation therapy programs nationwide in fall 2003, a 23% increase from an estimated 1,036 students in 2002, and a 57% increase from the 812 first-year students in 2001.

“These numbers show that people are getting the message that more radiation therapists are needed to care for America’s cancer patients, both now and in the future,” Harris said. “This is good news for the profession and for all Americans who are concerned about access to quality health care.”

Radiography and nuclear medicine programs showed smaller gains. The ASRT study estimated that 14,965 students entered radiography programs in 2003, up 9% from 2002. Students entering nuclear medicine programs in 2003 were estimated at 1,612, a 17% increase from a year earlier.

Based on these figures, the ASRT projects that the United States will meet government-projected demand for both radiation therapists and nuclear medicine technologists by 2010 but will fall short of producing enough radiographers to fill the expected number of job openings.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that the nation will need 7,000 more radiation therapists and 8,000 more nuclear medicine technologists in 2010 than it had in 2000. If enrollment, attrition, and retention trends remain stable, the ASRT estimates that an additional 7,200 ARRT-registered radiation therapists and 10,800 more ARRT-registered nuclear medicine technologists will be in the US workforce by 2010, adequately meeting the BLS projections. However, the ASRT study showed that the number of technologists entering radiography will not be sufficient to fill the BLS projection of 75,000 more job openings in 2010 than in 2000.

“Our study estimated that the nation will have an additional 51,000 radiographers working in 2010, which is more than 30% lower than the number the BLS estimates the country will need,” said Sal Martino, ASRT executive VP and chief academic officer.

The ASRT study also showed that 79% of responding radiography programs are at full enrollment, meaning the programs have enrolled the maximum number of students they could support. The directors of radiography programs at full enrollment reported that they had to turn away 23,550 qualified students.

“Obviously, this is a concern to the profession,” Martino said. “If radiography programs could admit more students, the country might not be facing a potential shortfall of radiographers by 2010.”

When asked to list the factors that limited the number of students they could accept, radiography program directors most frequently cited space (73.2%) and availability of faculty (64.8%). “There are not enough faculty to increase student numbers,” wrote one survey respondent.

“A shortage of educators might be exacerbating the shortage of technologists,” Dr Martino added. In fact, 66.3% of radiography program directors said it is difficult to recruit new faculty members for their programs.

The ASRT survey was conducted in September 2003. A questionnaire was sent to the director of every accredited radiologic science program recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists—about 850 programs in all. The survey asked program directors to report student enrollment figures for their 2003, 2002, and 2001 freshman classes. Approximately 69% of programs responded. The ASRT then extrapolated the reported enrollment figures to estimate the entire population of students entering radiologic science programs for each of the 3 years.

Complete results of the survey will be posted in early 2004 in the “Professional Development” section of the ASRT’s Web site, located at www.asrt.org.

Medrad receives Baldridge Quality Award
Medical device manufacturer Medrad Inc (Indianola, Pa) is one of seven organizations to receive the 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest honor for quality and performance excellence.
“I am pleased to join President Bush in congratulating this year’s recipients of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award,” said Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. “They represent America’s best and are setting a high standard for corporate and social responsibility. Their dynamic, principled leadership has built our economy into the world’s largest engine of progress and prosperity.”

The 2003 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from among 68 applicants. All seven were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and results. The evaluation process included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by teams of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.

“This recognition is so meaningful to the recipients because they know the evaluation for the Baldrige Award was objective and scrupulous in identifying performance excellence,” said Harry Reedy, chair of the Baldrige Award panel of judges as well as VP and director of quality at State Street Corp. “Every step of the process is structured to apply the knowledge and expertise of the board of examiners in ensuring that only the most outstanding applicants are recognized.”

Named after the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness of US businesses. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the quality and performance achievements of US organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award may be presented to five types of organizations: manufacturers, service companies, small businesses, education organizations, and health care organizations.

ASTRO opens satellite office in Washington, DC
The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO in Fairfax, Va) has opened a satellite office at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW in downtown Washington, DC. The ASTRO Board approved plans for the new office at its June Board of Directors meeting.

“The Washington, DC, office will help to reinforce that ASTRO is a key player in the nation’s major health care debate as it relates to cancer treatment,” said Joel Tepper, MD, 2003–04 ASTRO Chair. “It also will help us to continue working with legislators and regulators to ensure that cutting-edge treatments remain available and affordable for patients with cancer and other diseases. This step is in addition to the implementation of our strategic plan, which emphasizes the importance of government relations and health care policy activities.”

Adds ASTRO Executive Director Laura I. Thevenot, “I am excited that we are finally able to have a physical presence in the District. Opening an office in downtown Washington will help our government relations and health care economics staffs to respond more quickly and efficiently to the legislative and regulatory needs of our members.”

ASTRO currently has 7,500 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology, and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results, and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic health care environment.

d02c.JPG (11659 bytes)Study: Physicians’ mobile computing usage on the rise
According to a recent market study by the Spyglass Consulting Group (Menlo Park, Calif), mobile computing usage amongst physicians has grown significantly since the concept emerged several years ago.

Spyglass derived the content of its survey from more than 100 in-depth interviews with practicing clinicians at leading health care institutions around the country. The overall result of the study suggests that the trend in mobile computing usage continues to be on the rise; however, mobile devices still face significant hurdles before they are to gain complete adoption within the inpatient hospital setting.

According to the survey, hospital administrators who were interviewed are facing a number of challenges in attempting to deploy next-generation mobile solutions within an inpatient hospital setting. Some of the concerns and challenges that have come with the new technology include physician adoption, funding and integration complexities with legacy-based systems, and protection of patient information on hand-held devices.

The study also found a suggested reasoning for the recent incline of mobile technology in the hospital setting. More than 90% of clinicians interviewed who are under the age of 35 use some form of reference application on a daily basis. Also, some institutions are inciting large numbers of medical clinicians to independently purchase hand-held devices that are being used primarily for standalone knowledge-based applications, including drug reference databases, reference manuals, and medical calculators.

The market for health care mobile devices, applications, and services was approximately $50 million in 2002, composted primarily of standalone knowledge-based applications. The market is anticipated to grow significantly to $1.2 billion by 2006. Experts predict that the expected growth over the next 3 years will be driven by mobile applications that are tightly integrated with back-office clinical and financial systems.

For more information, visit www.spyglass-consulting.com.

d02d.JPG (16703 bytes)UPS to transport and install Philips X-ray systems
Precision and specialized tools are paramount to UPS Supply Chain Solutions, which has been selected by Philips Medical Systems to transport and install X-ray systems in Europe. A team of specialists, who receive extensive training by Philips Medical Systems, install ceiling-mounted and freestanding systems.

UPS Supply Chain Solutions Co (UPS SCS of Atlanta) has been selected by Philips Medical Systems (Bothell, Wash) to transport and install Philips X-ray systems throughout Europe.

According to the company, UPS SCS plans to install as many as 240 X-ray units throughout the next year in hospitals and medical practices from Portugal to Finland, helping to optimize the Philips medical supply chain. The installation of the machines is the result of extensive training and certification by Philips of six specialist teams from UPS SCS at the Philips Training Center (Best, The Netherlands).

UPS SCS is responsible for the delivery and mechanical installation of X-ray systems produced at Philips’ facilities in Hamburg, Germany, and Best. Properly packed and secured, the X-ray system is transported via special truck from Hamburg or Best directly to the destination. Upon its arrival, UPS SCS prepares the medical treatment room before assembling and installing the X-ray components. Much of the work depends on the precise alignment and secure mounting of the systems in the room. UPS SCS completes the transportation and installation within one working day, allowing Philips technicians time for electrical installation on the following day.

The benefits of this new cooperation include bypassing the distribution sites of the equipment, as machines are now taken directly to the hospital that placed the order. As a result, there is no piled inventory or overhead for warehousing staff. Additionally, because of the shorter transportation and installation times, production control can be aligned even more exactly to demand.

d02e.JPG (12888 bytes)Consorta Internet awarded for best site design
Consorta Inc (Rolling Meadows, Ill) recently received the Silver Award for Best Site Design from e-Healthcare Strategy and Leadership. Consorta.com and WINGS are Internet-based resource management services solutions that form a cornerstone of Consorta’s service delivery strategy to nationwide group purchasing organizations. In late October, the group held its annual resource management conference in Chicago, offering the opportunity to introduce further site improvements to its members and suppliers.

d02f.JPG (12543 bytes)Consorta’s latest Internet update delivers enhanced navigation and more information to its members, its suppliers, and the public. According to Consorta, the company has improved many of the design elements to reinforce corporate identity and strengthen online presence.

Consorta’s secure site provides service options for all Consorta constituents. Its shareholders and participants have access to all current information about the company’s agreements, products, and prices through the private component of the site. Second-level Web pages inform members about Consorta’s planned initiatives, offer a range of best practice and management resources, and serve as portals to Consorta suppliers and reference sites.

FDA approves Given’s capsule endoscopy
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Given Imaging Ltd’s (Yoqneam, Israel) capsule endoscopy for pediatric use in children aged 10 years to 18 years.

According to Given Imaging, the endoscopy was approved on the basis of a trial of pediatric patients suspected of having Crohn’s disease, intestinal polyposis, or occult or obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. The study found that the procedure either diagnosed or excluded a bleeding source, small bowel polyps, or Crohn’s disease in 29 out of 30 people. The capsule was tolerated well, with no adverse symptoms in all study patients.

“Capsule endoscopy is a safe, effective, and compassionate method for diagnosing small bowel disorders in children,” said Dr William R. Treem, MD, chief of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Duke University. “We have seen many cases of patients who suffered from undetected small bowel disorders and, after ingesting the capsule, received a definitive diagnosis and subsequent treatment that significantly improved their lives.”

TeraRecon enters 3D Imaging niche
TeraRecon Inc (San Mateo, Calif) has signed a three-year contract to supply 3D imaging products, including diagnostic 3D imaging services, to members of MedAssets HSCA (St Louis). This supply contract establishes, for the first time, a distinct category of 3D imaging products for one of the largest independent group-purchasing organizations in the United States. Previously, 3D imaging products have been bundled within broad categories for CT and MRI scanners. This newly established category recognizes the fact that 3D imaging products have emerged as a strategic area of importance for hospital radiology and other imaging departments as well as recognizes the growing importance of these products within the hospital supply chain management. The contract went into effect on October 1, 2003, and will be valid until October 31, 2006.

MedAssets HSCA is the third largest group-purchasing organization in the country, serving more than 16,000 health care providers nationwide. TeraRecon is a provider of advanced imaging systems and solutions for industrial and medical applications, with solutions based on its patented image processing technologies.

Center for telemedicine opens in Pakistan
The Preston Institute of Management, Science and Technology (Karachi, Pakistan), initially committed to improving the quality of technical and business education in Pakistan, is now in the process of adding telemedicine to its commitment. By setting up a computer-based telecommunication system at the Institute, which links health care professionals in several rural and remote communities, the institute will improve quality of life not only in the business sector, but also in the health sector.

The decision to implement such technology has just reasoning. Information and diagnostic service in under-served and rural areas are critical in Pakistan. Since the Internet is already highly sophisticated in the country, establishing the Telemedicine Center of Excellence at the Institute would be the most efficient and effective approach to aid in health care.

The Center, which is supported by the Pakistan Federal Minister of Higher Education, will serve various purposes, including the training of health workers and professionals about how they can use information technology to share their experiences on what methods have succeeded in preventive health. Trained practitioners can then redistribute the information on how to prevent epidemics, such as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and how to improve sanitary conditions. Training of the health practitioners will be done through distance education buildings on models currently being used in Canada, the United States, and some European countries.

A unique feature of this initiative is that the collaborators will not have to be in the same place and physically present all the time. Instead, they’ll have the option of developing training courses online, using the existing technology infrastructure and communications systems at the Preston Institute.

Small-scale hospital becomes leader in implementation
Spearheaded by Agfa Technology (Ridgefield Park, NJ) and driven by an institution-wide strategic vision, the 100-bed Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire has become one of the first hospitals in the nation to boast a medical imaging system that is fully implemented throughout the enterprise, interfacing with the existing hospital information system and integrated into a hospital-wide EMR.

Since 2002, Exeter has steadily expanded its commitment to technology by upgrading its IMPAX system to include cardiology viewing support with MPEG viewer, Microsoft SQL Server 2000, Microsoft Windows 2000 OS, and MR/CT Navigation Scout support. The hospital also uses Agfa’s EPRSuite, which allows end users to access clinical imaging data through the existing information system on-site.

From the beginning of the implementation process, the decision to go with Agfa’s digital technology was part of the comprehensive Exeter strategy—the integration of PACS with the hospital’s existing IS network and the eventual creation of a single hospital-wide EMR.

RealTimeImage inks agreement with four hospitals
RealTimeImage (San Bruno, Calif), a provider of Internet-based image streaming and digital workflow solutions, has been selected by four Michigan health care facilities to supply advanced DICOM viewing and digital workflow solutions.

Botsford General Hospital, a 336-bed teaching hospital in suburban Detroit, will install RealTimeImage’s iPACS PRISM solution, which combines the company’s iPACS image streaming Web server with short-term storage and full DICOM functionality to enable complete digital workflow for practices without an archive.

Associated Radiologists of Oakland County selected iPACS Prism to connect two locations as well as to enable image viewing from remote sites, according to Shahzad Sadiq, MD, president and CEO of the practice. iPACS PRISM also will enable cost-effective image archiving. Both Associated Radiologists, a private practice in Clarkson, Mich, and Great Lakes MRI purchased iPACS technology for its ease of use and functionality in image communication and archiving.

Toshiba Medical receives award for Aquilion
Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS of Tustin, Calif) has been awarded by Frost & Sullivan the Medical Imaging Product of the Year Award for its Aquilion 16 multislice CT scanner.

The award is presented each year to the company that has best demonstrated the ability to develop and/or advance products with more innovative capabilities than competing vendors and products.

“While other 16-slice CT scanners might have been quicker to market, the Aquilion 16 comes to market with a greater number of features designed to suit customer needs and to provide a competitive advantage to Toshiba Medical in the CT market,” says Monali Patel, industry manager with Frost & Sullivan. “The product has been well accepted already and has received acclaim from leading institutions, such as Johns Hopkins Hospital.”

The Aquilion 16 can capture 16 0.5mm slices with a 400-millisecond gantry rotation while competing 16-slice CT scanners produce slices that are 25% to 50% thicker and require a slightly longer gantry rotation time.

The extremely thin slices allow the capturing of valuable anatomical information, such as the details of small arteries or minor abnormalities of organ tissue, providing physicians with a powerful tool for neurological and cardiac applications that require precise clinical information.

The Aquilion’s ability to capture 16 simultaneous one- or two-millimeter slices allows it to cover a larger area in a short time—a necessity in trauma cases where time is the essence. Another unique feature, a 32mm detector along the patient axis, enables the Aquilion to cover a large anatomical area in a single scan, ideal for injured patients or those unable to lie still for long periods.

On the Move
Marjorie Hauser, founding president of Data Distributing LLC (Santa Cruz, Calif) announced that she is passing the presidency to current VP Nancy Fisher, who also will become the company’s CEO. Fisher joined Data Distributing in 1996, and has more than 13 years’ experience working with multinational firms. Data Distributing serves the medical imaging market through media sales.

Dunlee (Aurora, Ill) has named Tom Spees as sales manager for OEM business. Spees will manage the company’s expanding product line, which includes X-ray, CT tubes, image intensifiers, and camera systems. Spees has more than 25 years of medical systems and imaging experience. He most recently served as VP of sales and marketing for IMCO Technologies.

White Systems (Kenilworth, NJ) announced the appointment of Richard Lanpheare and Daniel VanHooser to the position of sales managers. Lanpheare will manage White’s Northwest territory, serving customers in New York, New Jersey, and the six Northeastern states. He began his career in 1995 as a US Navy non-commissioned petty officer, managing supplies and logistics in Coltsneck, NJ. In 2001, Lanpheare joined White Systems as a customer support representative. VanHooser has more than 30 years of experience, which includes materials expediting for the US Navy before starting his own material handling equipment sales company. VanHooser will be based in Indianapolis and manage White’s Midwest territory.

Janos Technology Inc (Townshend, Vt) recently named Frederick Mullavey as director of quality. Mullavey brings with him 16 years of experience in quality management and has a distinguished record for developing and integrating certified, Six Sigma quality systems. He also has published several ISO 9000 quality manuals.

iCAD and Fischer Imaging expand agreement
iCAD (Nashua, NH) has announced an expanded development and distribution agreement with Fischer Imaging Corp (Denver) that will include iCAD’s new iAD product that was recently approved by the FDA.

The iAD product will allow women to access CAD screenings of their mammograms at breast imaging centers where both traditional film and digital technologies are used. Fischer Imaging and iCAD have previously announced a development and distribution agreement for the iCAD iDM, a CAD product integrated with the Fischer SenoScan digital mammography systems used only in digital environments. The new agreement includes the iCAD iAD product, which will enable Fischer to offer its customers a complete CAD product solution for both digital and traditional analog applications.

“We know that both film and digital source images of mammography screenings are created at many women’s health centers,” observed W. Scott Parr, president and CEO of iCAD Inc. “The compatibility of the iAD with such mixed workflows will provide Fischer Imaging the necessary versatility for customers that are transitioning to digital mammography but retaining traditional film mammography as well.”

Fischer Imaging’s SenoScan TrueView Digital Scanning Mammography system has been FDA cleared since fall 2001 and represents a breakthrough in early breast cancer detection. It is the first digital mammography system to offer 25-micron native resolution—the highest resolution available in the industry. SenoScan’s larger field of view accommodates almost all patients, while its curved breast support is more comfortable and helps reduce motion during exposure. Its patented, slot-scanning technology is the only FDA-cleared digital mammography scanning system that can produce digital mammograms at less than half the dosage of other mammography systems—film or digital.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership agreement with iCAD, a CAD company that shares our goal of bringing innovative, leading-edge technologies to the medical imaging community,” stated Harris Ravine, president and CEO of Fischer Imaging Corp. “Our agreement with iCAD enables us to provide customers an important choice when they select a CAD system. The enhanced ability for radiologists to review CAD marks in real time, calling attention to subtle changes in tissue that may indicate the presence of breast cancer, should improve productivity when reviewing mammograms. CAD helps the detection of breast cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage.”

JCAHO revises infection control standards
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has approved revised standards to help prevent the occurrence of deadly health care-associated infections.

Although the standards retain many of the concepts embodied in existing standards, they sharpen and raise expectations of organization leadership and of the overall infection control program. The requirements for ambulatory care, behavioral health care, home care, hospital, laboratory, and long-term care organizations will take effect in January 2005.

The revisions are the result of the work of a group of infection-control practitioners, hospital epidemiologists, physicians, nurses, risk managers, and other health care professionals, along with significant input from accredited organizations participating in a field review. Since the work of these groups began, two new issues—emerging antimicrobial resistance and the management of epidemics and emerging pathogens—have arisen. Requirements addressing those topics will be sent to all accredited organizations this month for field review.

The new standards are designed to raise awareness that health care-associated infections are a national concern that can be acquired within any care, treatment, or service setting, as well as transferred between settings or brought in from the community. Therefore, prevention represents one of the major safety initiatives that a health care organization can undertake. The standards focus on the development and implementation of plans to prevent and control infections, with organizations expected to:

  • Incorporate an infection control program as a major component of safety and performance improvement programs;
  • Perform an ongoing assessment to identify its risks for the acquisition and transmission of infectious agents;
  • Effectively use an epidemiological approach, which includes conducting surveillance, collecting data, and interpreting the data;
  • Effectively implement infection prevention and control processes; and
  • Educate and collaborate with leaders across the organization to effectively participate in the design and implementation of the infection control program.

Imaging Diagnostic Systems receives medical device approval
Imaging Diagnostic Systems Inc (Ft Lauderdale, Fla) has received notification from the Medical Device Bureau of Health Canada that its application for a “New Medical Device” license has been approved, authorizing the sale of the CT Laser Breast Imaging System. This patented breast-imaging system uses laser technology and proprietary algorithms to create cross-sectional and 3D images of the breast for the detection of cancer in Canada.

Linda Grable, CEO of Imaging Diagnostic Systems, stated, “This is a historic achievement in that it represents the first governmental approval in the North American marketplace. The Health Canada Approval means we can now offer the CT Laser Breast Imaging System to physicians and medical institutions. Our Canadian distributor has been waiting for this opportunity to introduce the CTLM to the Canadian market.”

The license is issued in accordance with the Medical Devices Regulations, Section 36. In addition, Imaging Diagnostic Systems possesses the CAN/CSA ISO 13485-1998 certification, which is an additional regulatory requirement that is evidence of compliance to the quality system of the medical device.

Hologic announces agreement with Clarian Health Partners
Hologic Inc (Bedford, Mass) has announced that it entered into an exclusive 3-year agreement with Clarian Health Partners Inc, a consolidated health care organization based in Indiana, covering the purchase and sale of Hologic’s Lorad line of analog and digital mammography products and stereotactic breast biopsy systems. The exclusive agreement also covers computer-aided detection systems from R2 Technology. Systems purchased through the agreement will be supplied through Associated X-Ray Services Inc, Hologic’s sole distributor in the state of Indiana.

“Entering into this agreement with Clarian is particularly exciting for us,” said Jack W. Cumming, Hologic’s chairman and CEO. “As an organization, Clarian is clearly focused on providing the highest quality of care for its patients, using state-of-the-art health care solutions. The company’s clinical specialists are among the most dedicated and passionate professionals in the industry. We believe Clarian’s choice of Hologic as its sole-source supplier is recognition of our commitment to providing unsurpassed image quality and performance in our breast imaging systems. We look forward to working closely with Clarian Health Partners to provide its patients the best possible technologies for the early detection of breast cancer.”

Hologic’s comprehensive line of mammography products includes the Lorad Selenia, the industry’s only full-field digital mammography system using direct capture technology, and the M-IV and Affinity Series of screen-film mammography systems. Both product lines incorporate Hologic’s proprietary HTC (High Transmission Cellular) grid, which provides higher contrast images by reducing radiation scatter in two directions, and the FAST (Fully Automatic Self-Adjusting Tilt) Compression Paddle, which assures more uniform compression, for improved imaging and enhanced patient comfort. Hologic also provides both upright and prone stereotactic breast biopsy systems.

“We are pleased to partner with Hologic,” said Richard Helsper, VP of operations for Clarian Health Partners. “Hologic is a market leader and recognized for its technological leadership and innovation in diagnostic imaging systems. With the addition of the latest and best in women’s diagnostic imaging systems, Clarian will enhance its position as the premier provider of women’s services in Indiana and allow us to continue meeting our goal of delivering patient care, second to none.”

NIH announces breast cancer research centers, new study
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced the funding of four new Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers, designed to study environmental factors throughout a woman’s life that might increase her risk of developing the disease.

“Although diagnosis and treatment are improving, breast cancer is the leading cancer in women,” said NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD. “To improve this picture, we need to better understand the elusive environmental piece of the breast cancer puzzle. If we can understand the early events that can set the stage for breast cancer, we can do more to prevent this disease.”

In one collaborative project, the centers will use animals to study the development of mammary tissue and the effects of specific environmental agents. Another project will enroll young girls of different ethnic groups and study their life exposures to a wide variety of environmental, nutritional, and social factors that impact puberty. Early puberty has been shown to increase breast cancer risk later in life.

The four centers are the University of Cincinnati; Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia; the University of California, San Francisco; and Michigan State University in East Lansing. The centers will receive funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute, both agencies of the NIH, amounting to $5 million a year over 7 years.

In addition, the centers will work with advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, which will play a part in outreach activities to translate the results of the research into improved understanding, diagnosis, and prevention of breast cancer.

Currently, the NIEHS also is recruiting the sisters of women who have had breast cancer to study hereditary and environmental risk factors for the development of the disease.

The Sister Study is the first long-term study of its kind. It will enroll 50,000 US women from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, all of whom have a sister who has or had breast cancer.

Sisters of women with breast cancer, on average, have a higher risk of developing the disease than women who don’t have a sister or mother with breast cancer. The significance of studying sisters lies in the fact that, beyond sharing genes, sisters are also more likely to have been exposed to the same environments early in life and often have similar lifestyles as adults, which provide investigators opportunities to study the factors that can lead to breast cancer.

Studying the impact of the environment on breast cancer has been challenging. Generally, researchers have not had much information about which potentially harmful exposures may lead to breast cancer. The Sister Study hopes to change that by collecting detailed exposure information from women who have not developed the disease. The researchers will measure chemical levels in blood, urine, and toenail samples, and even in samples of household dust.

The study will collect data annually from women over a 14-year period, and is currently enrolling women in the United States between the ages of 35 and 74 with a full or half-sister who has or had breast cancer. The study only seeks women who have not had breast cancer.

New device could test radiation exposure to astronauts
A device currently being tested by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) could reveal what kind of neutron energy spectrum that astronauts are exposed to from neutrons inside a spacecraft, alerting the occupants when dangerous levels occur.

“When spacecrafts travel through a variety of primary high-energy cosmic rays, large vehicles absorb those rays and convert them into neutrons,” said Dr Richard Maurer, a researcher on the technology development team. “The spacecraft’s thick structure, in a sense, multiplies the primary particles so that there are more neutrons trapped inside a craft than the original number of cosmic rays that created them.”

The project’s goal is to develop a device that is lightweight and portable that could be transferred from the transport craft to a habitation facility or wherever it is needed. Currently, no compact, portable, real-time neutron detector instrument is available for use inside a spacecraft or on planetary surfaces.

Primary radiation particles, ranging from infrared photons to galactic cosmic rays, have been measured for years, but neutrons have not been measured adequately, particularly at high energy. Instruments used to measure radiation often miss the secondary neutrons, which astronauts are exposed to as well. Maurer, who also is principal staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel, Md), said the estimates of the radiation that astronauts receive from neutrons account for about one-third of the actual total dose.

“Since neutrons do not carry any electrical charge, they are both harder to detect and can penetrate more deeply into a space traveler’s body producing an increased risk of cancer, DNA damage, and central nervous system damage,” Maurer said.

To make the measurements, the device converts some of the neutron’s energy into light or a charge by making it interact with a detector. This process does not capture every neutron or all the energy of the neutrons detected, so a response function must be established to calibrate the percentage of particles detected and their energies, which are determined by analyzing the amount of light output or charge in the detectors.