Going for a doctor’s exam doesn’t necessarily mean being sent for a blood test in central Alberta.
Non-essential lab testing is still being limited to conserve medical vials and other supplies needed for blood tests.
While there are no absolute restrictions on lab testing at this time, a spokesperson from Alberta Health Services (AHS) said doctors are still being asked to limit non-essential testing, when possible, to save on supplies and ensure that enough testing equipment is available for patents who really need it.
“With this uncertainty of supply, AHS and APL continue to request physician assistance,” the spokesperson said on Monday, after conferring with Alberta Precision Laboratories officials.
Due to an ongoing global shortage of medical-grade plastics, deliveries of tubes with anticoagulants for simple blood tests for blood sugar levels, and pre-transfusion tests continue to be limited. “Our supply of these tubes have stabilized somewhat, (but) supplies continue to be tight,” said the AHS spokesperson.
She stressed that physicians can go ahead and order “all tests necessary for patient health management,” while AHS and Alberta Precision Laboratories continue to investigate alternate sources of tube supplies.
AHS and APL are also evaluating provincial inventories to provide equitable distribution while taking steps to minimize the number of tubes collected, where possible.
Alberta’s integrated provincial health system is one of the largest customers for lab testing products in Canada, getting supplies primarily come from BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) in Ontario.
As supplies of medical devices, such as sterile tubes for blood collection, are expected to be tight for the foreseeable future, “Health Canada recently issued an advisory regarding BD’s shortages.”
Doctors across the province were first asked to delay non-urgent blood tests in mid-February because blood collection vials were in short supply.
“We are prioritizing our limited supplies for tests required for urgent and acute care purposes,” AHS had stated.