International Best Practice: Understanding the Core Difference between Medical Laboratory Science and Clinical Laboratory Medicine in Nigeria
Introduction: International best practice (IBP) in the healthcare sector is an approach that is put in place globally, acceptable standards to ensure patients’ safety while providing quality healthcare to the community. It achieves such standards by defining the job roles of various professionals in the healthcare sector. In the Nigerian healthcare sector, despite the clear definition of the job roles of the medical laboratory scientist and clinical laboratory physicians (pathologist) by the various Acts of Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that established these two professions, there seems to be a misapprehension of the differences between these two professions. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge of the health workers as it concerns the IBP on the scope of practice of medical laboratory science (MLS) and clinical laboratory medicine in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: Across-sectional, observational design was used for this prospective study involving 427 health workers from the six geopolitical zones in Nigerian and Abuja, using a proportionate sampling technique. It was facility‑based research using
a validated semi-structured self-administered questionnaire.
Results: Over 50% of the participants believed that MLS was the same as clinical laboratory medicine. Two hundred and ten participants (49.2%) did not know that analyses of samples in a clinical laboratory was the job responsibility of a laboratory physician.
Conclusion: There was knowledge gap in the practices of both the MLS and the clinical laboratory medicine by health workers. Therefore, there is a need to create awareness through interprofessional education, workshops, and seminars to ensure understanding of job roles as this may promote harmony between these two professions in the health sector.
Keywords: Clinical laboratory medicine, international best practice, medical laboratory science