Memo from ACSLPA to Alberta Health Services and ACSLPA Members

To:         Alberta Health Services

From:   Michael Neth, ACSLPA Registrar and CEO

CC:        ACSLPA Members

Date:    March 17, 2020

Re:       ACSLPA Members Performing Nasopharyngeal Swabs


Comments:

ACSLPA has been asked by Alberta Health Services and others to provide an opinion on the capacity for regulated ACSLPA members to undertake nasopharyngeal swabs. Although nasopharyngeal swabbing is not part of ACSLPA members’ typical range of practice activities, consideration for this change is motivated by the exceptional need for competent practitioners who can undertake this activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Performing a nasopharyngeal swab is a restricted activity in accordance with the Government Organization Act and is therefore regulated under the Health Professions Act and the Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Profession Regulation (SLPAPR).

Position Statement: There is no legal or regulatory barrier that would prevent a member on the speech-language pathologist (SLP) general register from performing a nasopharyngeal swab as long as the individual is sufficiently competent to perform the activity. SLPs on the general register are specifically permitted by section 14(1)(b) of the SLPAPR to engage in the restricted activity “insert or remove instruments or devices beyond the point in the nasal passages where they normally narrow”, which would encompass nasopharyngeal swabbing. Audiologists are not authorized by the SLPAPR to perform nasopharyngeal swabs.

Advice to Employers: Employers should be aware that nasopharyngeal swabbing is not a common activity undertaken by SLPs in Alberta and so regulated ACSLPA members will require appropriate training and supports in order to develop sufficient knowledge and skill to perform this activity competently. As highly educated and conscientious health professionals, many SLPs are likely well-suited to undertake this activity once sufficiently trained. Regulated ACSLPA members have a professional obligation to decline work that they are not competent to perform. Employers can verify the registration status of SLPs by visiting www.acslpa.ca and clicking the “Verify Registration” link.

Advice to ACSLPA Members: Although this is a new activity for most SLPs, this is a truly unprecedented situation in which the greater good calls all health professionals, and indeed all people, to contribute as they are able in order to manage and hopefully stop the spread of COVID-19. Regulated ACSLPA members have a professional obligation to decline work that they are not competent to perform, however, they also have a professional responsibility to consider the public interest and undertake all reasonable steps to become competent before making a conscientious decision to decline the task. ACSLPA members seeking support in making conscientious decisions can contact the College at www.acslpa.ca/the-college/staff-directory/.

Michael Neth
Registrar and CEO