The Alberta government has issued a directive telling doctors in the province to test every patient in a hospital within 72 hours to determine if they have a sexually transmitted disease.
The move follows an outbreak of the disease in Regina that has forced some doctors to cancel appointments.
The Alberta Health Services (AHS) said Friday that it was doing its best to test all patients in Alberta and in Canada’s 11 territories within 72-hours and to make every effort to find the cause of the outbreak.
The province’s chief health officer, Dr. Mike Osterholm, said in a statement that testing all patients within 72hrs of diagnosis is a best practice, and all Canadians should be screened for STDs within 72 hrs of diagnosis.
In Saskatchewan, Health Minister David Elliott told CBC News that testing in all hospitals is a mandatory requirement and has been in place for over a year.
“Our doctors and nurses have been doing it in our hospitals and in other health care settings, so we have a strong mandate in place to make sure we are screening our patients,” Elliott said.
“The reality is that as a health system, we have an epidemic of STDs, and there are still people who have not been tested for them.
We are in the process of testing every one of our patients within the 72 hours that they have been diagnosed.”
Alberta’s health minister, Dr John Fraser, told CBC Radio’s Calgary Eyeopener the province will have to determine the cost of the testing.
“There’s no way we can afford it,” he said.
“It will be a cost of doing business that we’ll have to deal with.”
Elliott said there are no immediate plans to cancel any scheduled appointments in Saskatchewan.