Clinical laboratories could significantly improve health care for the transgender community by using both sex and gender identity to make decisions about clinical testing, and by determining normal lab values for healthy transgender patients.
A review published in Clinical Chemistry journal emphasizes critical steps on the road to eliminating the many hurdles that transgender individuals face when seeking quality healthcare. The survey found that 25%-30% of transgender people delay or avoid health care due to fear of discrimination, 15%-20% have been refused care by medical professionals, and 25%-30% have experienced harassment or violence in a healthcare setting.
Some of the recommended best practices for clinical laboratories to help ensure that transgender patients receive equitable care:
- Labs can base decisions on a patient's birth sex and gender identity.
- When sex-specific tests such as those for PSA or pregnancy are seemingly ordered for a patient of the opposite sex, labs should not cancel these tests and should always properly flag the results.
- Labs should develop precise reference intervals for transgender patients taking hormone therapy.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) released a report on the working conditions of medical technologists this week.
The report, titled Under Pressure, was based on an online survey the union conducted last fall. The results paint a dire picture, revealing a stressed-out, exhausted workforce, who are concerned their working conditions are hurting patient care. The number of medical laboratory technicians has dropped by 7 per cent since 2012. Yet, Saskatchewan's population has grown by 6 per cent between 2011 and 2016. Respondents want more staff. The majority (65%) said they think having replacements for vacation and sick leave would help the problem. More than half (56%) said the minimum amount of staff should increase. The report clearly shows a decline in technicians' health. Exhaustion was a common theme. One reported going "home exhausted and in a fog because I barely have time to think about what I am doing."
CUPE recommends in the report the government consult with front-line staff and take an audit of vacant staff positions and how many medical technicians are needed. The union wants the government to share the results of this audit with them. It also wants the government to give more money to hire medical technologists and technicians and revise its health human resources plan to prepare for the existing and upcoming shortage of technicians.
Video Testimonial: Shaelynn, CLXT