Senator Lucio's Letterhead

PRESS RELEASE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 03, 2013
CONTACT: Senator Lucio, Jr.: Daniel Collins 512-463-0127
Representative Naishtat: Jessica Boston, 512-463-0668

Senator Lucio and Representative Naishtat Announce Bills to Ensure Quality Medical Laboratory Technicians

AUSTIN Today, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) and Representative Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) announce the filing of bills which would ensure all Texans have access to licensed, qualified medical laboratory technicians, thus better guaranteeing patient safety and the accuracy of test results.

Senate Bill 761 by Lucio, and House Bill 2297 by Naishtat would require that all clinical laboratory testing technicians be licensed by the state. Currently, neither Texas nor federal law set minimum standards for such personnel.

"Under current law, clinical laboratory technicians are not subject to minimum training requirements, like we require of other medical professionals. Yet doctors depend on the information gained from these technicians' work in order to make life-saving decisions about how to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease," Senator Lucio said. "Under-qualified personnel increase cost to healthcare in time, money, and lives. Without licensure, there is no assurance that individuals performing laboratory tests meet minimum education and certification standards."

According to the Texas Association for Clinical Laboratory Science, requiring licensure will improve individual patients' healthcare outcomes. Licensure ensures that all clinical laboratory technicians receive uniform minimum training. Thus, patients can be better assured that they will not be subjected to unnecessary, inappropriate, and improper treatments.

Creating a registry of licensed laboratory testing personnel will also improve healthcare statewide. First, a statewide database will make it easier to identify what parts of the state lack professional personnel. Second, a statewide database would ensure that sufficient laboratory personnel are available on a moment's notice to perform critical microbiological testing in the event of a sudden pandemic or act of bioterrorism. Finally, licensure will ensure that Texas can more easily identify technicians if they become involved in unethical conduct or malpractice while performing their duties.

Senate Bill 761 and House Bill 2297 would create a licensing procedure for clinical laboratory technicians, and establish minimum competency and education standards. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) would be given rulemaking authority to determine qualifications for licensure, standards or professional conduct for technicians, and criteria for continuing education. As filed, the bills would require that licensing begin in 2015.

The bills will have no adverse effect on currently-working laboratory technicians. According to the Texas Association for Clinical Laboratory Science, there are more than 25,000 non-licensed technicians in Texas. Many of these current professionals would be automatically granted licensure, if they worked as a technician for at least three years during the five years preceding the date of application. Thereafter, technicians would have to renew their licenses every two years by completing at least 10 hours of continuing education or completing re-certification through a national certifying organization. Senate Bill 761 and House Bill 2297 also create a provisional license for technicians who have been licensed in other states and seek licensure quickly in Texas.

Requiring licensure will have no negative financial impact on either the state or on laboratory technicians. Similar legislation was filed by Senator Lucio in 2011. At that time, it was estimated that the state would be able to pay for the program through fees assesses to laboratory technicians. According to DSHS, laboratory technicians would only pay between $20 and $35 for their two-year license.

Senate Bill 761 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. House Bill 2297 has been referred to the House Committee on Public Health, of which Representative Naishtat is the vice chair.

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