Hamilton, ON – The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and assistants, has issued a statement urging the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to implement key recommendations of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing (the Cameron report).
“We are acutely aware of the devastating impact on patients, their families and friends resulting from inaccuracies with hormone receptor testing, and we extend our deepest condolences,” says Kurt Davis, CSMLS executive director. “I also wish to acknowledge the Honourable Justice Margaret A Cameron and the staff of the commission for their thoughtful and thorough report.”
To protect patient safety and restore public confidence in medical laboratory testing, CSMLS is urging the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to move forward immediately on the following recommendations:
• Professional regulation of medical laboratory technologists:
The CSMLS says the establishment of a regulatory body will help to ensure that medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) are competent to practise safely and effectively. It also strongly urges professional regulation of MLTs in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and the Territories, and regulation of medical laboratory assistants across Canada. CSMLS provides a single, national standard for certification of medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants.
• Mandatory external accreditation of medical laboratories:
CSMLS urges the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to move quickly to implement mandatory external accreditation of medical laboratories based on the internationally accepted standard, ISO 15189. The accreditation process must be accountable to the provincial government for review and oversight, and funded appropriately. The CSMLS adds that the governments of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Territories should also implement mandatory external accreditation of medical laboratories.
• Adequate resources for medical laboratory services:
The Cameron report highlights the negative impact of staffing shortages, corporate restructuring and budget cutbacks on laboratory services at Eastern Health. The CSMLS urges the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that there is adequate funding for medical laboratory services. It says this funding should include support for continuing education and for recruitment and retention of qualified medical laboratory professionals.
“As a national organization representing the third largest health care profession we embrace a culture that places patient safety at the centre of professional practice,” says Mr Davis.
CSMLS adds that it is taking steps to improve patient safety in the medical laboratory by:
• Revising the entry level competency profile for general medical laboratory technologists to include critical thinking, communication and interaction, applied investigation, resource management and professionalism. These competencies align with those contained in the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s framework for patient safety.
• Forming stronger linkages with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI).
• Developing clinical practice guidelines that support patient safety.
• Developing specialized continuing education courses for medical laboratory professionals. A new immunohistochemistry course is scheduled for release later this year.
“Justice Cameron’s report contains many valuable insights on how to improve patient safety in the medical laboratory,” says Mr Davis. “We hope that health care administrators and governments in the other provinces and territories will study this report and learn from it. We are concerned that another round of health care cutbacks and restructuring will further compromise the quality of medical laboratory services and endanger patient safety.
“We are also deeply concerned that the new labour mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade signed by provincial premiers in 2008 will erode the national standard of certification for medical laboratory technologists in Canada,” he adds. “Up to 85% of decisions about diagnosis and treatment are based on laboratory test results. We believe that the people of Canada have a right to expect that the people who conduct their tests are certified as being qualified and competent to practise safely and effectively.”