The Ministry of Health and its advisors may establish guidelines and protocols to guide referring practitioners. The Guidelines and Protocols Advisory Committee (GPAC) is an advisory committee to the Medical Services Commission. The committee comprises representatives from the Doctors of BC, the BC Ministry of Health, and BC’s Agency for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The committee focuses on developing clinical practice guidelines and protocols that support BC health care practitioners in delivery of high quality and appropriate care to patients with specific clinical conditions or diseases. This includes guidelines and protocols of laboratory testing. A referring practitioner must consider all relevant guidelines and protocols when considering the laboratory services being requested.
The Minister of Health has adopted applicable guidelines and protocols found in the Guidelines and Protocols Advisory Committee (GPAC) clinical practice guidelines.
A referring practitioner may submit a request for any benefit (laboratory service or test) subject to limitations or conditions. Examples of limits and conditions include, but are not limited to:
- test may only be ordered by a specialist
- test may require pre-order consultation with a laboratory physician
- test may only be available in certain laboratory facilities or hospitals
- test may be restricted as to frequency of ordering
- test may only be available for patients in a particular age group or with specific clinical indications
- test may not be intended as a diagnostic screening tool
Referring practitioners should refer to the full laboratory services schedule of fees for a comprehensive list of outpatient laboratory tests and additional fee item detail.
A referring practitioner must not refer a patient to a laboratory facility in which the referring practitioner has a material or indirect financial interest, unless there is no public laboratory facility in the same catchment area that provides the test.
In certain rural or remote communities, it may not be possible for the patient to visit a laboratory facility in which the referring practitioner does not have a financial or other interest. In these situations, the referring practitioner can request prior written consent of the Minister of Health prior to referring the patient.