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ACP modernizes laboratory testing standards

October 31, 2018
New rules will support quality patient care.

The Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) has released new Standards of Practice and Guidance for Laboratory and Point of Care Testing (POCT). These standards take effect January 1, 2019.

“We recognized that technology was outpacing practice and our current standards,” said ACP deputy registrar Jeff Whissell. “We knew that POCT was emerging in the community and that there were already devices available for pharmacists to use. We wanted to create a framework with which they could use those devices safely and effectively to provide better care to Albertans.”

Common examples of POCT include strep testing, and monitoring for blood glucose, INR, and lipids.  Performing these tests provides immediate results for the pharmacist to assess and may allow access to individuals who are not able to attend a laboratory.

“This could also support pharmacists in managing drug therapy by assessing indicators of effectiveness or adverse reactions when needed at the point of care,” said Jeff. “It does not replace traditional laboratory testing but it is another source of information to enable pharmacists to manage medication therapy more holistically.”

The changes have been years in the making and saw the creation of a white paper by a working group and extensive consultation. ACP also took the opportunity to re-examine laboratory test standards, identify any gaps, and provide in-depth guidance on the subject for the first time. Pharmacists will have a responsibility to carefully understand all elements of tests that they choose to order or conduct.

The standards and guidance documents are available for review on the ACP website. As of January 1, 2019, sections 3.6-3.9 of the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians will be retired and replaced by these new standards.