2008-07-18 09:56:16 GMT 2008-07-18 17:56:16 (Beijing Time) SINA.com
OTTAWA - There aren't enough medical technologists in Canada to keep up with demand for breast cancer screening, says the head of the Canadian Association of Pathologists.
And the situation is going to get worse without government action, association president Dr. Jagdish Butany warned Wednesday
"There aren't enough technologists, and even worse, there aren't enough professionals," Butany told a news conference at the close of the group's annual meeting in Ottawa.
The call for more laboratory specialists came as an inquiry in Newfoundland heard testimony about inaccurate breast cancer test results.
The provincial government revealed this spring that 108 patients whose tests were misread have since died, but it may never be known how many of them, if any, passed away as a result of their treatment.
Some pathologists are now working well beyond normal retirement age because there is no one to replace them, said Butany.
That is causing concerns about the accuracy of testing in other parts of the country, he suggested.
"There are pathologists working past the age of 70 today," he said.
"That should not be the case unless they really want to, and somebody says 'yes, they are as good as they were when they were 50 years old,' for instance," Butany added.
The association called Wednesday for the creation of a single set of operating procedures for breast cancer testing.
The group's five-point plan to improve laboratory services in Canada includes:
-Mandatory certification of tests conducted by medical laboratories.
-A validation system that would see independent, separate laboratories verifying test results from other labs.
-Use of a robust national quality assurance checklist system to ensure staff training and competence, as well as validating test results.
-Creation of a national body, independent of government, to accredit all Canadian laboratories.
-Immediate and ongoing government financial support to train and hire more technologists.
The bottom line: patients in one part of the country should expect that tests conducted on them are the same as those conducted on patients in other provinces, said Butany.
"The general idea is that a patient in Newfoundland should be guaranteed an equally valid test result as a patient in Ontario, or British Columbia, or anywhere else."