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Doctors asked to delay non-urgent blood tests as Alberta faces shortage of collection vials

Albertans are being asked to delay non-urgent blood testing due to a shortage of testing vials across the province.

Tests being conserved for urgent and acute care patients, AHS says

Alberta will need to conserve its supply of test vials until supplies are restored in the coming weeks, Alberta Health Services says. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Alberta doctors are being asked to delay non-urgent blood testing due to a shortage of testing vials across the province.

Patients with outstanding lab tests should also consult with their doctors to determine if any non-urgent blood tests can be safely delayed until further notice, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said Wednesday in a statement. 

"We are prioritizing our limited supplies for tests required for urgent and acute care purposes," AHS said.

"Alberta physicians are requested to halt ordering non-urgent blood tests until further notice." 

It's unclear exactly when Alberta's supply will be restored but the current stock of vials will need to be conserved until inventory levels are replenished "in the coming weeks," AHS said. 

The shortage is widespread and caused by ongoing international supply chain issues, AHS said. 

"Supplies of the vials are tight globally due to ongoing shortages of medical-grade plastics, and AHS is experiencing a short-term supply shortage after a recent order was not filled by our primary supplier," AHS said.

The shortage affects vials used for the most commonly ordered blood tests, including complete blood count and hemoglobin tests, AHS said.

Alberta Precision Laboratories is communicating with physicians and partner organizations to notify them of the supply issue and asking for their assistance in limiting orders of non-urgent tests, AHS said.

"We are working with our vendors to have urgent shipments sent as soon as possible, and are investigating whether alternate supplies we have in stock may be used for these tests," AHS said. 

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