Thursday, 22 March 2018 13:37

In Memoriam: Raymond Clark Bartlett

Raymond Clark Bartlett, M.D., prominent clinical microbiologist, with an international reputation for innovative teaching of microbiology laboratory practices focusing on cost containment and quality control, died on January 23, 2018 at the age of 87 in Avon, Connecticut. Bartlett, grandson of Raymond Clark, M.D., a locally-prominent Brooklyn physician, attended Columbia College and later the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University (“P & S”) where he graduated in 1956, the fifth among four generations of his family to graduate from P & S. After an internship and residency training in pathology at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, he joined the Department of Pathology at Hartford Hospital and remained there for his entire professional career.

 

Dr. Bartlett became known for his introduction of novel practices at Hartford Hospital for the control of hospital-associated infections. After Congress passed the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) in 1967, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) solicited Bartlett’s input as they developed guidelines consistent with the intent of the CLIA. His recommendations for establishing quality control in the microbiology laboratory were incorporated almost without exception into the guidelines and became a part of the federal regulations for clinical laboratories.

 

In 1974, Bartlett published Medical Microbiology: Quality, Cost and Clinical Relevance, inciting controversy among physicians because of his criticism of entrenched practices of the clinical microbiology field in the collection, processing, reporting and interpretations of results that he viewed as wasteful and clinically misleading. Despite the controversy and resistance to his new approaches expressed by some prominent clinical microbiologists at the time, Bartlett continued to promote better quality control and operational practices within the microbiology laboratory, moving on from simple quality control issues to quality improvement efforts, infection control programs, and establishing a balance for cost-effective application of these procedures as the health care dynamic changed over time.

 

In a biosketch of Bartlett, written by Andrew B. Onderdonk for Journal of Clinical Microbiology (full citation below), Onderdonk remarks: “His concepts for quality management were very similar to those used in a variety of industrial settings and included the concepts of continuous quality improvement, management by objectives and communications between staff, and management on an ongoing basis. By the early 1980s, many clinical laboratories were embracing the concepts and practices put forward by Dr. Bartlett over a decade earlier.”

 

Among his many contributions and accomplishments, Bartlett was a long-time member of ASM, as well as a fellow of The College of American Pathologists, The American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), and The American Academy of Microbiology, and was actively engaged in their educational programs and publications. In recognition of his many contributions to clinical pathology and clinical microbiology specifically, he was awarded the distinguished service award from the ASCP in 1978 and was awarded the Alex Sonnenwirth award in 1990 by the ASM for his contributions to clinical microbiology. In 1994, following his retirement, Dr. Bartlett was awarded the Becton Dickinson Award by the ASM.

 

A short biosketch of Dr. Bartlett providing more details on his groundbreaking work, authored by Andrew B. Onderdonk, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and published in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology (Volume 53 Number 5), is available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4400769/pdf/zjm1464.pdf

 

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