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Position Statements


Respiratory Protection for Medical Laboratory Personnel
CSMLS Certification and Entry-Level Requirements
for Medical Laboratory Technologists

CSMLS Certification and Entry-Level Requirements
for Medical Laboratory Assistants

Maintenance of Competence
The Use of Standards in the Medical Laboratory
Laboratory Environmental Concerns
Point-of-Care Testing
Support for Regulation: MLTs
Support for Regulation: MLAs
Quality Work Life Environments for Medical Laboratory Professionals
Medical Laboratory Responsibility to the Environment


Respiratory Protection for Medical Laboratory Personnel

In keeping with Center for Disease Control recommendations (CDC), it is the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science’s (CSMLS) position that N-95 respirators is the minimum level of protection for laboratory personnel who may be exposed to bioaerosols through close contact with infected patients, or in the performance of laboratory tests on potentially infectious specimens.

The majority of scientific studies on the efficacy of these respirators supports their superiority over standard surgical masks in the reduction of exposure to airborne and droplet contamination.

Concerns about a potential influenza pandemic have heightened awareness concerning respiratory protection for health care workers. Respiratory exposure to infectious agents is dependent on several factors:

  • the size of infectious particles,
  • the concentration of infectious agents in the aerosol,
  • the persistence of the aerosol,
  • the length of exposure time.
     

In all Canadian jurisdictions, employers are responsible for ensuring a healthy and safe work environment for employees. This includes making appropriate control measures available to protect workers from exposure to infectious agents.

The CSMLS believes that all laboratories should have a plan in place that is defensible and ensures due diligence in the protection of workers. Until enough evidence is available to support changes to current best practice, N-95 respirators should be used as the minimum standard for health care workers facing potential exposure to respiratory infectious agents.

Revised May 2013

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CSMLS Certification and Entry-Level Requirements
for Medical Laboratory Technologists

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) believes that CSMLS national certification must be the entry-level qualification for Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs) in Canada; the CSMLS competency profiles equip Medical Laboratory Technologists with the required skills and knowledge to provide high quality medical laboratory services and to function as members of multi-disciplinary health care teams, thereby enhancing the quality of patient care for all Canadians.

MLTs analyze specimens, perform medical laboratory tests and interpret test results. Accurate medical testing, analysis and interpretation are essential to diagnosing illness, treating disease, and maintaining overall health and wellness.

In addition to keeping pace with rapid advances in the field of medical laboratory science, MLTs must be prepared to function within multi-disciplinary health care teams. Consequently, entry-level Medical Laboratory Technologists must develop diverse technical and broad-based skills including critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is the body responsible for national certification. The CSMLS:

  • Develops competency profiles in consultation with employers, practitioners and educators
  • Establishes policies relating to the national certification exams
  • Appoints candidates to the Examination Panels
  • Revises profiles regularly, in an effort to include all pertinent, current and emerging scientific information.

CSMLS currently offers entry-level MLT certification in three areas: General Medical Laboratory Technology, Diagnostic Cytology and Clinical Genetics. Only graduates of Canadian accredited training programs or successful CSMLS “Prior Learning Assessment” candidates are eligible to challenge the national certification examination.

CSMLS national certification ensures that MLTs possess the skills and knowledge they require to provide patients with high quality laboratory services.

Approved March 2001
Revised November 2005
Revised May 2012

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CSMLS Certification and Entry-Level Requirements
for Medical Laboratory Assistants

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) believes that CSMLS national certification must be the entry-level qualification for Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) in Canada; the CSMLS competency profile equips MLAs with the required skills and knowledge to provide high quality medical laboratory services and to function as members of multi-disciplinary health care teams, thereby enhancing the quality of patient care for all Canadians.

MLAs play a vital role in the provision of laboratory services in Canada. Their work relates primarily to the pre-analytical phase of laboratory testing, including specimen collection, specimen preparation and data entry.

In addition to keeping pace with rapid advances in the field of medical laboratory science, MLAs must be prepared to function within multi-disciplinary health care teams. Consequently, entry-level medical laboratory assistants must develop diverse technical and broad-based skills including critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is the body responsible for national certification. The CSMLS:

  • Develops competency profiles in consultation with employers, practitioners and educators
  • Establishes policies relating to the national certification exams
  • Appoints candidates to the Examination Panels
  • Revises profiles regularly, in an effort to include all pertinent, current and emerging scientific information.

CSMLS currently offers entry-level MLA certification. Effective 2013, only graduates of Canadian accredited training programs or successful CSMLS “Prior Learning Assessment” candidates will be eligible to challenge the national certification examination.

CSMLS national certification ensures that MLAs possess the knowledge and skills they require to provide patients with high quality medical laboratory services.

Approved May 2012

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Maintenance of Competence

Medical laboratory technologists are highly trained professionals who play a vital role in health care. This is being recognized through self-regulatory legislation at the provincial level.

Professional status carries with it both rights and responsibilities. Along with the right to use a professional title or designation and to present oneself as a qualified professional, come responsibilities:

  • to measure up to the accepted standard of practice
  • to adhere to a code of conduct or ethics
  • to be accountable for one's professional acts.

Implicit in these responsibilities is the need to maintain knowledge and skills at an appropriate level.

To keep pace with today's rapidly evolving and technically complex laboratory environment, learning must become a lifelong commitment. The CSMLS believes that maintaining our knowledge and skills is a fundamental professional responsibility.

Initially approved November 1996
Reaffirmed March 2002

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The Use of Standards in the Medical Laboratory

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) supports using consensus-developed standards for Medical Laboratory Science to enhance and ensure quality health care for all Canadians.

Standards are documents that specify safety and/or performance requirements for products, processes and services. In addition, they may also outline industry guidelines and summarize good practices. Standards must be revised and reviewed regularly to accurately reflect changes in technological advances and stakeholder needs. Although adherence to standards is usually voluntary, legislation mandates compliance in some jurisdictions.

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science believes that:

  • Canadian Medical Laboratory Professionals must participate in national and international standards development and revision.
  • Key stakeholders, standards organizations and governments must support initiatives to ensure quality healthcare.
  • Medical laboratory professionals must remain informed about evolving standards in their specific laboratory discipline(s).

Well-recognized organizations such as ISO, CLSI, CSTM, AABB, CSA and CGSB have already produced standards for the medical laboratory sciences. CSMLS recommends that Canadian medical laboratories adopt these expert organizations’ currently-established standards where applicable.

Acronyms:
AABB - American Association of Blood Banks
CSTM - Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine
CGSB - Canadian General Standards Board
CSA - Canadian Standards Association
CSMLS- Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
CLSI - Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute
ISO - International Standards Organization
 

Approved September 1998
Reaffirmed March 2002
Revised December 2006
Revised May 2012

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Laboratory Environmental Concerns

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science recognizes that the environment of our planet is not a renewable resource. Our members share in the responsibility of protecting the environment for future generations. Recognizing that the medical laboratories where our members work produce biological, environmental and hazardous wastes, the CSMLS endorses the following environmental commitment:

  • all wastes must be treated with procedures which will meet or exceed approved statutes and legislation
  • waste reduction, resource reuse and recycling must be implemented where possible
  • the use of “environmentally friendly” and ecologically acceptable products is encouraged
  • all members should encourage others to practise with similar environmental responsibility, recognizing and addressing environmental concerns in their workplace.

Approved February 1993
Reaffirmed March 2002
Revised October 2011

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Point-of-Care Testing

Point of Care Testing (POCT) is an alternative to central or core laboratory testing that is performed at or near the patient, predominantly by non-laboratory medical professionals, inside or outside a hospital or medical setting. Benefits to POCT may include improved turnaround times, improved patient outcomes and reduced time to diagnosis and treatment.

Technological advancements have produced portable, easy to operate instruments that can deliver rapid, high quality test results.

  • Point-of-care testing programs require:
  • collaboration of cross-discipline communication
  • evaluation and determination of potential improvements for patient outcomes
  • standardization and performance verification of instrumentation
  • certification and staffing requirements
  • effective cost management

Clinical laboratories and medical laboratory technologists must maintain focus on assuring continuous quality of all laboratory testing wherever the procedures are performed. Medical laboratory technologists have the responsibility for the management of quality assurance by providing leadership and expertise in:

  • developing, maintaining, operating and reviewing appropriate training programs to ensure competency of operator;
  • assisting in the development of procedure manuals;
  • establishing and monitoring appropriate documentation;
  • establishing and monitoring quality control practices;
  • implementing and auditing proficiency programs; and
  • ensuring compliance with equipment protocols.

CSMLS endorses POCT when it is a collaborative and coordinated process between the clinical laboratory and other healthcare professionals, and there is clear evidence that the use of this technology improves the quality of patient care.

Approved March 1995
Revised September 2002
Reaffirmed December 2006
Revised October 2011

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Support for Regulation: MLTs

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Support for Regulation: MLAs

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Quality Work Life Environments for Medical Laboratory Professionals

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Medical Laboratory Responsibility to the Environment

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