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Providing patients results for COVID-19 laboratory tests

August 19, 2020
Pharmacists must evaluate and assess each unique situation and the needs of the individual.

ACP has been receiving questions from pharmacists about whether they can disclose the results of COVID-19 tests to patients who request this information. The answer depends on the assessment of the patient.

The first factor a pharmacist must consider is whether they have established a professional relationship with the patient as required by the Standards for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, Standard 2. A professional relationship must exist or be developed before the pharmacist provides this or any other professional service to a patient.

When the pharmacist has formed a professional relationship or has an existing professional relationship with the patient, but they are not the pharmacist who ordered the COVID-19 test, the pharmacist must consider Standard 18 of the ACP Standards of Practice Laboratory and Point-of-Care Testing (POCT):

18. A pharmacist who receives a request for information from a patient about a laboratory test or POCT that the pharmacist did not order must

  1. only provide results of the test in accordance with applicable provincial privacy legislation and protocol, and
  2. not provide an interpretation of the results of tests unless
    1. the pharmacist has the necessary competencies to interpret the test results and take appropriate action within the scope of pharmacy practice, and
    2. the results are pertinent to the service being provided by the pharmacist.

In this case, the most applicable provincial privacy legislation is the Health Information Act. The pharmacist should consider the Act’s requirements when disclosing health information.

The pharmacist must use their professional judgement to determine if they have the necessary competencies to interpret and act upon the results and if providing the results of the COVID-19 test are related to the care the pharmacist is providing to the patient. Each patient and each situation will be different and require a unique assessment. These interactions must be documented on the patient’s record of care.

When the pharmacist is the healthcare professional who ordered the COVID-19 test, they have a responsibility to interpret the test results, advise the patient as required, and take appropriate action as per standards 16 and 17 of the ACP Standards of Practice Laboratory and Point of Care Testing (POCT) and the requirements of the Pharmacy Based Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Program.