California Nurses Will Not Be Performing High Complexity Testing Despite Recent Federal Medical Labo
Federal ruling may eliminate the jobs of educated and trained medical laboratory scientists and technicians outside California.
Recent actions by the Federal Government won’t be affecting our nurses or medical laboratory testing personnel ...yet...thanks to organizations like the California Association for Medical Laboratory Technology.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made an unprecedented move which may eliminate the jobs of educated and trained medical laboratory scientists (MLS’) and technicians (MLT’s)! These scientists and technicians are trained to perform high and/or moderate-complexity and lifesaving laboratory testing daily. To compound the decision, the government decided to place the task and responsibility of high and moderate-complexity laboratory testing on nurses! Nurses, who in the majority of cases are overburdened, stretched in responsibility and have no formal training or education in high or moderate-complexity laboratory testing methods, protocols and procedures!
The scary and highly concerning factor is that CMS do not publish a proposed rule on this issue and review public comments before proceeding. The American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) wrote in a letter to CMS, as the decision “sets a dangerous precedent for altering personnel requirements without public consultation.”
The impact of this decision is far reaching.
First and foremost, it puts US lives at risk! Medical laboratory professionals provide more than 70 percent of objective patient information to physicians and other healthcare providers so they can provide accurate diagnosis and treatment plans, according to a 2002 study in Clinical Leadership and Management Review. Most people believe that their doctor performs their lab tests...they don’t...nor would you want them to!
MLS and MLT professionals learn the medical laboratory theory for thousands of currently available lab tests, the sources of test interference, and the connections between test results and diagnoses! It is not an overstatement to say that medical laboratory professionals provide critical lifesaving information repeatedly during their work day: e.g., complex testing such as cross-matching your blood for emergency surgery, to identifying a genetic abnormality in a newborn, or assisting in the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis and cancers like Hodgkin’s disease. (Posted on 10 March 2015 by Rodney E. Rohde, PhD, David M. Falleur, MEd, and Joanna R. Ellis, MS)
Secondly...according to Dr. Michael Icardi (National Director, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Service, Dept. of Veterans Affairs), “They haven’t asked the nurses if they want to do this. They don’t want to be MTs or RTs.” Our nurses are already stretched to a breaking point. How can they be expected to be everything to everyone...and do it safely, accurately and proficiently? The American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) argued, “The nursing degree is not intended to be, nor should it be viewed as the equivalent of a degree in biological sciences or any other natural science degree required of laboratory testing professionals to perform moderate and high complexity diagnostic testing services.”
Despite the critical importance of medical testing, only 12 states currently license medical laboratory personnel. States such as Virginia continue to struggle with maintaining high standards for testing.
“We have attempted to get licensure in Virginia at least three times over the past 20+ years. I was involved in the latest attempt just a few years ago. The committee to which the bill was referred sent it to the Board of Health Professions (BOHP) to determine if it was necessary to license lab personnel. We, for the first time, were able to get the BOHP to agree that it was. That's when the lobbyists from the hospitals, special interest groups, and even our own State Lab and a local reference lab got involved and blocked the bill from ever getting out of committee,” noted Bill Korzun, PhD, DABCC, MT(ASCP).
“Even though California mandates higher laboratory personnel standards and requires licensing, the California Association for Medical Laboratory Technology (CAMLT) fights each and every day to maintain these standards to protect our patients. We defend ourselves against special interest groups such as optometrists, chiropractors, pharmacists, nurses, etc. from expanding their scopes of practice into clinical laboratory science. For more than 50 years, each year special interest groups try to convince CA legislators to dilute and/or repeal state licensure laws. We actively engage our law makers, colleagues and the public to educate them about what it takes to become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS or aka MLS nationally), MLT or Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) and why others without requisite education and training should not be performing clinical laboratory tests, phlebotomy, or supervising laboratories,” noted Dora W. Goto, MS, CLS, MLS(ASCP), Immediate Past President (CAMLT).
Ms. Goto went on to say, “We need California doctors, nurses, medical laboratory training schools and patients to reach out to their assembly members and senators as well as help support us in the fight against lower medical laboratory testing standards. Anyone can support our mission and lobbyist’s efforts by visiting www.camlt.org.
CAMLT (California Association for Medical Laboratory Technology), is a not for profit, volunteer run professional organization that fights daily to maintain California’s high standards in care and education and licensing for Clinical Laboratory Scientists, Medical Laboratory Technicians and Phlebotomists in California. Visit us today at http://camlt.org, FaceBook and LinkedIn