In Regards to Laboratory Medicine, Is Nursing a “Biological Science?”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) think so.

Recently, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) alerted its members to this action. From the email:

“On April 1, CMS announced that “an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing is equivalent to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, respectively, in biological science”—seemingly declaring that individuals with a nursing degree are potentially as qualified to perform advanced testing as certified laboratory professionals. It also appears that CMS’s position could allow individuals with as little as a bachelor’s degree in nursing to direct a CLIA moderate complexity laboratory and/or serve in senior supervisory roles within a CLIA high complexity laboratory. Since the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988 doesn’t specifically require clinical training of individuals with a degree in biological sciences, CMS’s new policy exempts individuals with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from any specific training requirement prior to performing high complexity testing for diagnostic purposes.”

ASCP is urging the laboratory community to ask CMS to reconsider its position that nursing is a biological science for purposes of performing laboratory testing by signing this petition.


5 thoughts on “In Regards to Laboratory Medicine, Is Nursing a “Biological Science?””

  1. This is a very high risk approach. As a clinical lab management professional who had inspected more than 100 accredited labs and hospitals in the past 15+ yrs, I have not seen any evidence to support the facts that individuals with BSN are equal to those with BS In Biol. Science with lab training and therefore capable to function as the CMS presents here.This would jeopardize patient safety greatly!!! Many CLIA WAIVED tests need careful training and allow most healthcare other than certified lab personnel to do the testing. However, even those waived testings, many RNs still failed to recognize the critical nature of internal QC/documentation and the instrument calibration procedures. Imagine if applied to moderate and high complexity? Where are we going with this?

    ISN’T patient safety is the center focus of CMS? Or those manufacturers that want to sell their products widely outsite for POCT increasing their revenues becoming the ruler?

    We certainly should not wait for tragedy after tragedy happens due to this rule implementation. PLEASE consider the patients who can be HARMED greatly…or subjected to treatments UNNECESSARILY.

  2. So am I, as an MT with a bachelor’s degree, qualified to give patients meds and start IVs? Who are these people that make these decisions?

  3. I agree with Diann, RN’s have enough to do already. As a whole, CMS needs to STOP changing the rules in order to fulfill their own interpretation of who is qualified to perform testing in the medical laboratory.

  4. This is very surprising in the fact that we go through clinical rotations that specificially train us in each disipline. I have been long against the simple “biological science” degree qualification to work in a laboratory. This is leaving experienced technologists at a premium and I want to see the nurse that wants to walk into a lab and say they could do it. Nurses do not want anything to do with the lab usually. Also look at nursing salaries versies laboratories. Will hospitals be willing to pay the higher salaries if they cannot find qualified med techs with 4 year degrees to run their labs?

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