New Standards for Pharmacist Ordering, Receiving, and Interpreting Laboratory Tests

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New Standards for Pharmacist Ordering, Receiving, and Interpreting Laboratory Tests

On June 27, 2024, the Board of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia approved new standards, limits, and conditions (SLCs) to be added to Schedule F of the Health Professions Act (HPA) Bylaws, establishing practice standards for pharmacists when ordering and receiving laboratory tests and interpreting test results. 

The bylaw amendment establishing the approved SLCs has been submitted to the Ministry of Health for filing and is expected to come into force on August 30, 2024. 

These new SLCs support work underway by the Ministry of Health to enable pharmacists to order certain laboratory tests for medication management as benefits under the Laboratory Services Act (LSA).  The Laboratory Services Regulation (LSR) is being amended to designate pharmacists as “referring practitioners”, effective August 30, 2024. 

Pharmacist lab ordering is not a restricted activity under the HPA and can be performed currently to support services that fit within pharmacists’ current scope of practice as it is defined under the Pharmacists Regulation. However, being designated as “referring practitioners” under the LSA will now allow pharmacists to order certain laboratory tests as a health benefit at no cost to their clients. 

The Ministry of Health is establishing, also effective August 30, 2024, a referring practitioner  schedule for pharmacists which lists the laboratory tests that pharmacists can order, as benefits, for the purpose of medication management. Laboratory tests that are not on this schedule may only be ordered if they support services that fit within pharmacists’ current scope of practice, and clients will be subject to an out-of-pocket cost for them.

Pharmacists ordering tests in hospital settings will be required to meet the new SLCs and will be expected to continue complying with health authority policies on ordering laboratory tests as long as those policies are consistent with the new SLCs. 

Enhancing Cultural Safety and Client-Centered Care in CPBC Standards

The SLCs for Ordering, Receiving, and Interpreting Laboratory Tests use the term “client” in place of “patient.” 

This updated language reflects a conscious shift away from the use of the term "patient” to address a more holistic perspective on the relationship between health professionals and those they serve. The term "patient" implies a power imbalance between the caregiver and the recipient of care and has historically been associated with trauma and mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples within the healthcare system.  The term "client" enables agency and supports individual identity in a more  collaborative, equitable approach where the individual actively participates in their healthcare decisions. The shift to "client" signals a move towards person-centered care that emphasizes empowerment, autonomy, and partnership.

In approving the new SLCs for ordering, receiving, and interpreting laboratory tests, the CPBC Board has confirmed that going forward, all CPBC bylaws and policies will be incrementally updated to use “client” in place of “patient,” with these SLCs being among the first to reflect this shift. 

This change is a first step towards a deeper integration of CPBC’s Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-Racism Practice Standard within our regulatory framework. 

Jun 28, 2024