Last update: 11-Dec-2013 5:04 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Fuad plans to crack down on medical labs
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan is planning to crack down on medical laboratories which operate without qualified personnel or accreditation. He was speaking after several doctors complained that medical labs were springing up all over T&T without proper monitoring by the health authorities. Khan admitted that problem should be on the front burner. “To be honest, we have not been engaged in regulating labs because we had no major complaints about it. However, we realise now that this is a problem which must be addressed urgently because we are finding a lot of discrepancies in lab results,” Khan told the T&T Guardian.
Asked whether he will be piloting legislation to regulate labs, Khan said that would be done next year. He added: “Right now we are trying to pass the Nurses and Midwife Act and the Pharmacy Board Act and this is taking some time. From next year we will begin looking at passing a specific act to monitor and regulate labs. “This should be done urgently and will be part of our primary healthcare plan.” Asked whether an authority would be established to specifically monitor labs, Khan said that had not yet been decided. “We haven’t established how we can do it as yet but it is a good idea to have an authority in place just as we have an ambulance authority,” he said.
He added that the Medical Accreditation Authority would be responsible for regulating all medical institutions, including labs. Khan said consultations would be held with stakeholders to discuss the issue. He noted that Ramsaran’s Lab in St Augustine was the only internationally accredited lab in the country. Checks by the T&T Guardian revealed the lab is 1SO 15189 certified and has joint accreditation with the Standards Council of Canada. Public relations officer of the T&T Medical Association, Dr Frank Ramlakhansingh, said the crackdown on non-accredited labs was long overdue.
He said: “For many years we have been clamouring for regularisation.” He said recently a patient with a life-threatening disease was diagnosed positive for herpes. “I did not believe the result so I sent it to Ramsaran’s Lab for verification and this result came back negative. This is a life-threatening situation and we cannot have labs being run by technicians who have an affiliation to a doctor,” Ramlakhansingh said. He added that a lot of labs had cropped up within recent times. “Anybody could set up a lab behind their office. They are mushrooming all over the place without qualified technicians. There should be a recognised body to deal with this,” Ramlakhansingh said. He said too much skulduggery was going on and patients’ lives were under threat.
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