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Welcome to the December edition of Aotea News.

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving and for remembering those less fortunate than ourselves.  At Aotea Pathology we support the City Mission at Christmas through both monetary and gift donations.  Throughout the year we are also pleased to support Te Omanga and Mary Potter Hospices, the Cancer Society and the Wellington Medical Research Foundation – recognition of our social responsibility to the local community who we are proud to serve.

In this newsletter you will find :
  • an update on the laboratory contract process
  • our response to some of the recent referrer survey feedback
  • information on requesting malaria and typhoid during the ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa
  • laboratory & collection centre opening hours over the summer holidays
Finally we would like to wish you and your families a peaceful and happy Christmas break.  We look forward to providing laboratory services to you in 2015.

Dr Karen Wood, CEO

Laboratory Contracts

Aotea Pathology’s contract for community-referred laboratory services in the HVDHB and CCDHB regions expires in October 2015.

The Boards of Wairarapa DHB, Hutt Valley DHB and Capital and Coast DHB (the 3 DHBs) have, at their December board meetings, agreed to proceed with an integrated hospital and community laboratory service for their regions.
Further information can be found at this link Integrated lab media release from the 3DHBs
Aotea Pathology is keen to remain a key provider of laboratory services in the region. We will keep you updated on developments.

Feedback from our Latest Referrer Survey

Thank you for your comments in our recent referrer survey.  Below is our response to some of the more common issues you raised.
How do I contact a Pathologist?
Did you know that all our pathologists contact details are on our website? 
Several of our Pathologists also work at Wellington Hospital so may not always be available by phone when you call Aotea Pathology.  If the matter is not urgent the preferred method of communication for the pathologists is by email ( Please ensure you include sufficient patient details together with your query.
Removal of flags on lipid results
Laboratories in the region have agreed that the format for reporting of lipids will be rewritten, with a target for implementation of February 2015. This decision supports your feedback that the flags which appear on many lipid results are sometimes inappropriate.
The new format will refer to the 2013 update of the Primary Care Handbook, issued by the Ministry of Health. This emphasises that lipid results for each individual should be assessed in the context of their overall cardiovascular risk. The concept of optimal levels or targets of treatment is not a focus in the new guideline and thus we will no longer flag results because they exceed the previously stated optimal levels. This has had the effect of flagging most results and causing unnecessary concern for many individuals. Some very high level results will continue to be flagged as abnormal.
eLab Issues
Thank you for the feedback regarding eLab speed which has been passed onto the eLab vendor - HealthLink.  We recognise that at times eLab may be slow, in part because of the increasing demands made on the IT infrastructure of general practice in the number of applications which practices are now required to have.  Please feel free to contact us with any eLab performance issues.
Unlabelled specimens
Several of you commented that you would like to be contacted and given the opportunity to correct any labelling discrepancy rather than receive a fax from us saying that the specimen will be discarded.
We do have a process to hold specimens to allow time for further clarification of minor labelling discrepancies. However, in most instances we are unable to test incorrectly labelled specimens because of the strict specimen labelling requirements stipulated by our laboratory accreditation (IANZ).
Further information on our specimen labelling acceptance criteria can be found at the following link: Specimen labelling acceptance criteria 
Can skin margins always be included in histology reports?
It is standard practice to report skin margins on all malignant melanomas. Our pathologists are currently reviewing the request for skin margin reporting for other tumours.

Ebola/Referring Patients to Aotea from West Africa

If requesting malaria or typhoid testing on a patient who has travelled overseas, it is imperative that the practitioner obtain an accurate travel history prior to sending the patient to the laboratory.

If your patient has travelled to Africa, it is essential that all countries visited in Africa are listed.

Should any of these countries include Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia then you MUST contact the Clinical Microbiologist at Wellington Hospital before initiating testing.

Aotea Pathology will not process any samples from patients at risk of having Ebola virus disease. This includes for routine testing, such as CBC, as blood and body fluids are highly infectious.

Christmas Hours

Aotea Pathology laboratory will be closed Thursday and Friday 25th & 26th December and Sunday 28th December.  We will also be closed Thursday & Friday 1st & 2nd January and Sunday 4th January. Arrangements have been made for critical specimens from After Hours Centres to be tested at Wellington & Hutt Hospital on these dates.
For information concerning the opening hours of our collection centres over the Christmas break please refer to our website link for Christmas Hours

Links to other Aotea Pathology publications

Aotea Pathology also publishes Clinical Updates and a patient newsletter. Check them out here:

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