Healthcare professions in nearly all, if not all, jurisdictions around the world have well-defined scopes of practice.
They are well recognized, protected and regulated by law. Professions are guided locally and internationally by stringent training, licensure (and/or certification) and continuing education requirements, codes of ethics and disciplinary procedures.
Jurisdictions in which practice of medical laboratory science is protected and regulated as a Health Profession includes the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, just to name a few.
The profession of Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) is a distinct profession and is duly recognized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU) among others. Medical Laboratory Practice is characterized by its own unique Body of Knowledge and Scope of Practice; certifies its practitioners; and requires of its practitioners, impeccable competency in scientific, technical, managerial, scholarly principles, high standards of performance and professional conduct.
The Health Professions Regulatory Bodies (HPRB) Act 857(2013) is the law that spells out the procedures for registration and practice for all recognized health professions in Ghana.
Whereas, professions of Medicine/Dentistry, Nursery/Midwifery, Pharmacy and Psychology are distinctly defined and regulated respectively by Part Two, Three, Four and Five of Act 857:2013, Medical Laboratory Science is distinctly regulated by Part One of same Act thereby granting autonomy and independence of practice to each profession.
The Health Professions Regulatory Bodies (HPRB) Act 857(2013) defines medical laboratory science as the study and practice of laboratory investigations necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases by health professionals including medical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory technicians.
Medical Laboratory Science is a profession that practices independently as well as collaboratively with other healthcare professionals and is distinct from the practice of medicine, Biology, Chemistry and Pharmacy.
No other profession is competent enough to oversee the activities related to Medical Laboratory Science practice or claim legal responsibility for services rendered by licensed medical laboratory practitioners.
No supervisory powers have been granted by law to any profession over medical laboratory science. Licensed Medical laboratory Scientists in their line of duty are professionally liable for any negligence or other unprofessional conduct that arise in the course of discharging their professional duties.
The scope of Medical Laboratory Science practice in Ghana conform to those of ISO 15189:2012 and the UK Institute of Biomedical Sciences and includes the analysis of human tissues, body fluids, excretions, production of biologicals, design and fabrication of equipment for the purpose of medical laboratory diagnosis, treatment and research.
It encompasses medical microbiology, clinical chemistry, haematology, blood transfusion science, virology, histopathology, histochemistry, immunology, cytogenetics, cytology, parasitology, public health and epidemiology, forensic science, molecular diagnostics, bioethics and laboratory management. Integral features of each of these specialties include diagnostic testing, research, consultation, education, information management, marketing and administration.
The Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists is the sole professional body for medical laboratory science in Ghana. It was registered in 1973 under the Professional Bodies Registration Decree 1973, (NRCD) 143 with Registration Number PB-2.
This decree mandates every professional to belong to a professional body in order to practice that profession.
GAMLS as a professional body exists to promote and to improve the practice of the medical laboratory profession through continuous education, research and training in line with international best practices for the benefit of Ghanaians and the world at large.
It is the position of the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) that medical laboratory testing is the defined practice of qualified medical laboratory professionals and encompasses the design, performance, evaluation, reporting, interpreting, and clinical correlation of clinical laboratory testing, and the management of all aspects of these services.
As healthcare professionals, medical laboratory scientists have the required knowledge and skills to perform, correlate, and interpret laboratory tests, supervise and direct clinical laboratories and educate medical laboratory professionals and other users of medical laboratory information.
Medical laboratory scientists as members of the healthcare team, collaborate in the diagnosis and treatment of patients by implementing initial and reflex algorithms and testing protocols within prescribed guidelines. Medical laboratory scientists assure reliable and accurate laboratory test results, disseminate medical laboratory test information to clinicians, patients and other clients in a timely manner.
They evaluate the outcome of clinical laboratory testing for each individual patient and the entire healthcare system.
It is our position also that medical laboratory scientists, with appropriate professional education and experience, must direct full-service medical laboratories.
This function is firmly grounded and implied in the relevant laws, scheme of service and job descriptions, ISO 15189 Medical Laboratories Requirements for Quality and Competence and Allied Health Professions Council/ National Accreditation Board/National Council for Tertiary Education specifically approved curriculum of study.
Medical laboratory science is not subservient to any other profession and therefore, subject to control, supervision and headship by any other healthcare professionals.
It is our humble request that this position be respected by all in the spirit of team approach to patient care, and practice of rule of law and promotion of professional excellence for the benefit of humanity and society.