Ontario pharmacists can test CO poisoning patients

Image copyright CUPE/P&C Ontario’s health minister has said pharmacists can safely test people with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. A coroner’s report into the death of a Glengarry, Ontario, man highlighted the close relationship…

Ontario pharmacists can test CO poisoning patients

Image copyright CUPE/P&C

Ontario’s health minister has said pharmacists can safely test people with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

A coroner’s report into the death of a Glengarry, Ontario, man highlighted the close relationship between retailers and gas stations.

The report found two people died and six were left unconscious after being accidentally exposed to carbon monoxide gas at two different gas stations.

Health Minister Helena Jaczek said pharmacists did not face the same regulatory oversight as doctors.

She said pharmacists had to have special permission to test people with CO awareness, and said the energy retailers did not have access to clinical data to manage the gas station.

Image copyright Insurance Bureau of Canada

“The coroner’s report reminds us of our duty to pay close attention to gas stations and remind patients and the public about the importance of carbon monoxide exposure prevention,” she said.

Some pharmacies had been testing patients whose symptoms were indicative of CO poisoning, the report found.

Dr Julian Somers, an anesthesiologist who co-authored the report, said pharmacists were not required to take extra steps such as asking the patient about their recent activities.

“A person who is gasping for breath, it’s never difficult for a pharmacist to ask, ‘Did you eat or drink at lunch? Has there been any activity in the past 24 hours?’ The first line of questioning is always going to be about the recent activities,” he said.

The public health unit said doctors need to be involved in treatment because of the potential seriousness of CO poisoning.

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