Controversy Over ABG Competencies

What are ABG competencies you say? If you’re asking yourself that question then you may want to refer to a great article by John Olmstead, MBA, RRT, and Brenda Wilkerson, CRT on arterial blood gas laboratory certification (October 2000). Here’s a link.

For the rest of you managers and directors I didn’t lose yet., let’s assume you are keeping records of annual ABG competencies for all of your staff. You still may not be ok.
The Joint Commission is citing hospitals if the person who checks off your staff on running ABGs does not have a BS degree in either the biological sciences or respiratory therapy. Also, this person must be in a supervisory role and not simply a new hire. CLIA is reportedly requiring this as well. This is not to be confused with competencies about drawing ABGS.

NY Respiratory departments are tackling this mandate in various ways. Some simply require that the competency be witnessed directly by a supervisory RT with a bachelor degree. Others have implemented a co-signing procedure to ensure that at least one of the signatures on the paper is from someone holding a bachelor degree.