LABCON2018, the national conference of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), will bring together over 300 laboratory professionals from across the country. The conference will be held in Ottawa from May 24 - 27, 2018 at the Brookstreet Hotel.
Friday’s keynote presentation will be delivered by the internationally renowned Phlebotomy expert, Dennis Ernst. In addition to being the Director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education, Inc, Dennis is the author of over 50 articles on phlebotomy, two textbooks and three desk references.
Saturday’s featured speaker is Jason Tetro, a visiting scientist at the University of Guelph with over 25 years of experience in health-related microbiology and immunology. Better known as The Germ Guy, Jason regularly writes for The Huffington Post Canada and is a regular with media outlets worldwide.
“LABCON attracts the best and brightest from all facets of our profession,” says Christine Nielsen, CSMLS Chief Executive Officer. “It provides an opportunity for laboratory professionals, lab directors, educators and students to come together to share their knowledge, ideas and common challenges.”
Although most Canadians have gone through a sample collection at least once in their lives, few realize what happens once the samples have been taken. Those cups and tubes head into a fascinating realm of healthcare known as medical laboratory science. Here, a group of committed professionals work diligently to examine, analyze and detect a variety of different molecules, cells, and at times, pathogens.
Medical laboratory science is not as well-known as other sectors of healthcare but its importance can't be ignored. Without laboratory testing, doctors would be unable to provide accurate diagnoses of a variety of infectious illnesses, including antibiotic resistant bacteria. The information also is critical to detect chronic diseases such as cancer. The laboratory also can identify health concerns due to genetics in a more accurate manner than home kits can provide.
The medical laboratory professional has been a part of healthcare for over 6,000 years. Back then, the Ancient Egyptians performed only urine tests. Since then, the scope and number of tests performed have increased such that a medical laboratory professional now has an arsenal of options to understand the human condition.
Their work will end up in compilation of data — usually a series of numbers — that in the hands of a doctor, tell a story about what is happening inside the human body. More importantly, the information can provide guidance on how to improve a person's health.
Until recently, the value of these individuals was not given due credit. After all, they work outside of the view of the public and the patient. But now that has changed thanks to the most recognized health authority, the World Health Organization.
Earlier this week, they released a list of the most vital diagnostic tests for human health. The information is a laundry list of techniques performed in medical laboratory science demonstrating their importance to our overall health.
WHO published its first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.
“An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “No one should suffer or die because of a lack of diagnostic services, or because the right tests were not available.”
The list concentrates on in vitro tests - i.e. tests of human specimens like blood and urine. It contains 113 products: 58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions, providing an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients. The remaining 55 tests are designed for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of “priority” diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus and syphilis.
Some of the tests are particularly suitable for primary health care facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent; for example, tests that can rapidly diagnose a child for acute malaria or glucometers to test diabetes. These tests do not require electricity or trained personnel. Other tests are more sophisticated and therefore intended for larger medical facilities.
“Our aim is to provide a tool that can be useful to all countries, to test and treat better, but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests,” says Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals. “Our other goal is to signal to countries and developers that the tests in the list must be of good quality, safe and affordable.”
Carnet santé Québec will be available on computers, tablets and smartphones, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette announced last week.
“The online service is a tool for the patient that will be simple, safe, secure — and free,” Barrette said. Much like an online bank account, only the client will be able to access his or her health data, he added.
Announced in December, the government is to roll out the program during the next two years, starting with an online registration process that went live this week.
Initially, patients will be able to consult their “carnet” or health booklet for a list of medications received from the pharmacy going back five years, laboratory results for urine and blood tests, and medical imaging tests such as X-rays.
As of September, patients will be able to see how much their doctor billed for each procedure and medical intervention. Eventually, the system is to include all medical interventions done in offices, clinics and hospitals — for example, an operation to remove an appendix will be broken down according to fees for surgery, hospitalization, medication and staff.
By 2019, patients will be able to see their progress on wait lists for surgery.