Manitoba Health has suspended operation of a mobile clinic that was in the business of collecting blood samples for medical tests.
Christi’s Mobile Medical Services, which served Brandon, was told to cease and desist operations following a complaint that the business wasn’t properly supervised.
The College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Manitoba expressed concerns to the Brandon Sun, but that college oversees medical lab technologists, not medical lab assistants.
It’s a medical lab assistant who runs the mobile clinic so the lab technologists college had no authority to act.
“I can’t technically do anything so I passed it on to Manitoba Health, hoping that they’ll look into it,” college registrar and CEO Adam Chrobak said.
The mobile clinic is run by Christi Benedito, who has described herself as a medical lab assistant.
The purpose of her business was to help homebound patients who are too weak to visit a lab when their doctor orders a test.
In promoting her business, Benedito said she was able to collect blood samples, check vital signs and perform blood pressure tests as long as a patient has a doctor’s requisition.
There was a $25 per visit fee.
His attention drawn to the mobile clinic by lab technologists who work in the Brandon area, Chrobak said he was concerned about a possible lack of quality control.
Lab assistants, he said, are supposed to work at an accredited lab under the supervision of a medical director.
It would have been acceptable for Benedito to collect specimens as an employee of such a lab, but Benedito has confirmed she is self-employed.
Chrobak questioned how any lab accepting specimens from the mobile clinic could ensure they were taken properly from the proper patient.
He said certain tests need to be done using specific equipment and specimens need to be labelled, stored and transported in a specific way.
Without these safeguards, he said, there’s a risk that patients could receive the wrong, or erroneous, test results.
A Manitoba Health spokesman confirmed that College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Manitoba informed the department in early March that a medical lab assistant was running the mobile clinic.
Its services included house calls, collection of specimens, the checking of vital signs and blood pressure tests, the department was told.
The department then determined that the clinic’s collecting of specimens didn’t meet requirements under the Health Services Insurance Act.
That act spells out the requirements and regulations for specimen collection and Manitoba Health ensures compliance. Specifically, Manitoba Health said the clinic’s operator wasn’t working under the supervision of a laboratory medical director.
She also hadn’t shown proof of appropriate training or that she has met the training requirements. In addition, she wasn’t taking part in an ongoing competency program.
Finally, the medical lab assistant wasn’t employed by a hospital or registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba or registered with the College of Medical Lab Technologists of Manitoba.
Essentially, she wasn’t a registered medical lab technologist and wasn’t being supervised by an accredited laboratory. As a result, Manitoba Health issued a cease and desist order to the business on March 26.
The business owner contacted the department in early April and was told of the requirements for running a mobile clinic.
Among the requirements is an application to Manitoba Health’s Standing Committee of Diagnostic Services.
The owner has since made an application to operate as a mobile collection service — independent of an accredited lab or of supervision by a lab medical director — and that is now under review.
The committee reviews all applications for new or expanded diagnostic facilities.
A decision is still a few weeks away, the Manitoba Health spokesman said, and until the review is complete, in the interests of patient safety, the clinic isn’t allowed to run.
Despite the above concerns, there’s no evidence that any patients were put at risk or that test results were affected.
Benedito declined comment until the committee reaches a decision. However, she confirmed that she’s self-employed and not an employee of an accredited lab, and that her business had been put on hold at the request of Manitoba Health.
Besides being an accredited lab assistant in Canada, she said she was educated as a medical technologist in the Philippines, her home country.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 4, 2012