Bureau of Laboratories receives College of American Pathologist Accreditation
More than 6.6 million tests conducted annually at MDHHS lab


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories recently received accreditation by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) making Michigan one of seven state public health laboratories out of more than 8,000 CAP-accredited facilities worldwide.

The recognition is based on the results of a recent on-site inspection as part of the CAP’s Accreditation Programs. During the CAP accreditation process, designed to ensure the highest standard of care for all laboratory patients, inspectors examine the laboratory's records and quality control of procedures for the preceding two years. CAP inspectors also examine laboratory staff qualifications, equipment, facilities, safety program and record and overall management.

The laboratories’ director, Sandip H. Shah, PhD, MSc, HCLD (ABB), was advised of this national recognition and congratulated for the excellence of the services being provided.

“Only a handful of State Public Health Laboratories are CAP-accredited facilities in the United States,” said Shah. “This prestigious accreditation speaks volumes about the outstanding quality and variety of work our highly qualified, skilled and dedicated scientists perform every day. It also makes our laboratory one of the few Advance State Public Health Laboratories, as designated by the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network Program.”

On a daily basis, scientists at the Bureau of Laboratories protect the health and safety of Michiganders by testing for hundreds of microbes, diseases and chemical substances in human, animal and environmental sources.

“The important testing being conducted by the dedicated staff at the department’s Bureau of Laboratories protects the health and safety of all Michiganders,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director. “Their work is allowing the state to effectively monitor and respond to environmental public health threats and to expand investigation of potential contamination of public water and food sources.”

Tests can take from a few minutes to a few weeks and on an annual basis lab staff conduct more than 6.6 million tests. This includes sexually transmitted diseases, influenza, Salmonella, rabies, lead, measles, newborn screening and hundreds of other tests. So far this year, the lab has confirmed 46 cases of measles, the highest number of cases in the state since 1991.

The lab is also responsible for testing fish in the state’s lakes, rivers and streams for mercury, PCBs, dioxins and PFAS. These results are published in the Eat Safe Fish Guide which helps protect residents who eat Michigan fish by providing information on which fish are safe to eat and which ones to avoid.

It also completes newborn screening (NBS) where infants blood spots are tested for more than 50 potentially life-threatening diseases. Every year, the NBS program tests more than 120,000 newborns and identifies approximately 250-280 babies afflicted by one of the 54 blood-spot-testable disorders included on the NBS panel. Screening is completed between 24 and 36 hours after birth and lab staff work quickly to identify conditions that require immediate medical or nutritional intervention.

In some cases, MDHHS’ lab has made discoveries that reached far beyond state lines.

In October 2018, lab scientists discovered thallium in ready-to-eat grilled chicken strips being sold in grocery stores across the country. The discovery was made during routine testing the lab conducts as part of a program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The program covers chemical and biological testing of food products quarterly as part of surveillance of the food supply.

The discovery led to a national recall of approximately 15,408 pounds of grilled chicken products as consumption of high concentrations of thallium can lead to serious health effects. As part of this program, Michigan’s lab has also tested supplies used at the 2018 and 2019 Super Bowls and the 2016 Republican National Convention.

In coordination with MDHHS’ Healthy Homes program, the Oakland County Health Department and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, testing in 2018 helped determine the cause of elevated blood lead levels in a child in Oakland County, and led to a national recall of curry powder containing lead.

By the Numbers – A few notable FY2018 MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories tests and screenings:

Hepatitis C                        7,897

Influenza                           997

Lyme Disease                   881

Norovirus                           340

Rabies                               3,858

Syphilis                              21,742

Lead                                  22,547

Newborn Screening           6,402,940

The U.S. federal government recognizes the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program, begun in the early 1960s, as being equal to or more stringent than the government’s own inspection program. CAP accreditation assures that MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories will continue to be a leader in providing quality laboratory science for healthier people and communities.

More information about CAP is available at Cap.org.

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