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Hospital Newsletter

In this issue

Educating medical residents at transfusion camp

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It’s not only kids who get to go to camp.

At the University of Toronto, post-graduate medical residents spend five days a year in “transfusion camp” at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Established by Drs. Yulia Lin and Jeannie Callum, this unique camp has been running since 2012, drawing 60 to 80 residents annually from critical care, hematology, hematopathology, obstetrics and pediatric hemato-oncology. Assessments have shown that knowledge for all specialties improved across the board after attending camp. Those findings were published in the journal, Transfusion, in August 2015.

A couple of years ago, the group established a partnership with Canadian Blood Services to expand the reach of the camp across Canada. The program now includes several universities and while the lectures are still delivered by experts in Toronto, amongst which we count Canadian Blood Services medical staff, they are webcast live and recorded for other sites to access. Team-based learning seminars are also shared among sites and local experts, including Canadian Blood Services medical staff, lead those discussions with their trainees.

“Transfusion is one of the most common procedures that happen in hospitals,” says Dr. Yulia Lin, an associate professor and transfusion medicine specialist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“The best transfusion is the most appropriate transfusion, and that’s what we’re trying to teach residents. In these specialties, specifically, they’ll have to order transfusions during their residence and obtain consent from a patient for that transfusion. We want to make sure they have the knowledge to make those decisions.”

This partnership is just one way Canadian Blood Services demonstrates its commitment to education and knowledge-sharing to promote excellence in transfusion and transplantation medicine. While this partnership is still in its early stages, early results suggests that it may have the potential to be a national education program for postgraduate medical trainees in Canada. Ultimately, it may narrow the transfusion medicine knowledge gap and lead to improved transfusion outcomes for Canadians.

A variation of this article was first published in Pulse magazine in 2016.


Mining the online resources

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Navigating some publication search tools can be daunting. Fortunately, there are some great online transfusion medicine resources on Canadian Blood Services websites.

Blood utilization best practices

Our Utilization team has conducted two best practices surveys to date, and have shared the findings in customer letters that are posted online. The first two topics were O Rh negatives red blood cell utilization and platelet utilization and inventory management. With the first survey the goal was to keep the O Rh negative BloodBrief topic fresh in everyone’s mind, and to share “best practice” utilization and inventory management ideas collected from your hospital peers.

In addition to the customer letters, we are disseminating these best practices via our education website where you can find the same content in a more digestible and searchable format.

More best practice surveys are in the works, including topics like irradiation and group AB cryoprecipitate.

Clinical Guide to Transfusion

Another well referenced resource is the online Canadian Blood Services’ Clinical Guide to Transfusion. This guide is an educational resource for health care workers on the provision of blood products and transfusion medicine services in Canada. We regularly reach out to Canadian experts to write and review the 18 chapters so that it continues to provide users with the most up to date information. Topics include blood administration, adverse reactions, hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, and platelet transfusions and management of refractoriness.

In a survey conducted in 2015, participants reported significant knowledge gain from reading the chapters. With the launch of our new education website last autumn, the Clinical Guide to Transfusion is now available as html content in addition to the PDF downloadable format. It is easy to search, view on mobile devices or print. In fact, the Clinical Guide to Transfusion is our most frequently visited resource, representing 14 of the top 25 most visited web pages.


While our research and education network members tend to publish most of their work in peer-reviewed journals (sign-up for our Research & Education Round Up newsletter to get a monthly update), they also publish original publications on the website. One that garners the most interest is an article on TRALI, which has a whopping 4000 to 5000 unique page views monthly (with an average of six minutes spent on the page for each visit). This publication has been recently updated, so take a few minutes to check it out! 


Enhancing your knowledge with the LearnTransfusion series

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Are you looking for learning opportunities and ways to enhance your knowledge in Transfusion Medicine?  Are you aware that Canadian Blood Services supports the delivery of education events such as webinars and symposiums?

If you haven’t already checked out the Professional Education website, you should!  That is where you will find all Canadian Blood Services supported events. Just one example of a great learning opportunity is the LearnTransfusion Series.

What is the LearnTransfusion Series? 

The LearnTransfusion Series is the seminar component of the Areas of Focused Competency (AFC)-Diploma Program in Transfusion Medicine, organized by Canadian Blood Services. Although these seminars are targeted to trainees enrolled in the diploma program, the series is also open to all with an interest in the field of transfusion medicine. Through a series of weekly webinars, trainees and practitioners are exposed to various scientific, technical and clinical aspects of transfusion medicine. 

The series is complemented by the University of Toronto Transfusion Rounds, which are sponsored by ORBCoN (Ontario Regional Blood Coordinating Network).  These webcasts are recorded. So, if you miss a presentation, you can always view it later. 

Hot topics coming soon include:

  • April 27 —  A case for and a plan for a provincial massive transfusion protocol (MTP) by Dr. Jeannie Callum and Dr. Katarina Pavenski
  • May 27 — A debate on fibrinogen replacement by Dr. Keyvan Karkouti and Dr. Simon Stanworth
  • June 22 — The plan for O Neg RBC utilization in Ontario. How are we going to get to target? by  Dr. Kathryn Webert

What’s the best part? 

LearnTransfusion is an accredited program.  The events are self-approved group learning activities (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification program of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. A certificate of attendance is provided to attendees who attend and complete the event survey. 

How to sign up

Visit the website to find out how to register for the LearnTransfusion series.

Other Events and Opportunities

In addition to LearnTransfusion Series, Canadian Blood Services supports many other learning events such as the CSTM annual meeting and an annual international symposium.  The Professional Education website lists them and many others in the events section. It’s a great place to discover your next education experience. If you are planning an event, contact the team to make sure your event is listed.

Keep learning!


BloodTechNet - bringing great ideas to life

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Through the BloodTechNet competition, Canadian Blood Services funds innovative projects aimed at delivering educational tools and resources that support the development of skills, knowledge, and expertise of health professionals in the transfusion, cellular therapy, and transplantation communities in Canada.

Since 2011, many excellent projects have come to life thanks to this program, which also receives support from Grifols. A few shining examples, described below, include the Stem Cell Club, Transfusion Confusion and TransfusionQuest. 

Links to BloodTechNet educational resources can be found on the Professional Education website.

Sample projects

In 2015 and 2016, Dr. Warren Fingrut received funding for Stem Cell Club. The Stem Cell Club, which equips medical and nursing students with skills to become health advocates for patients in need of stem cell transplants, is developing a national evidence-based volunteer training program.

The Stem Cell Club is at 18 campuses across Canada! The training program for stem cell drive volunteers, leaders and organizers includes four online modules, six videos and a workshop. To date, over 500 students across Canada have completed training and are busy recruiting for OneMatch. 

Transfusion Confusion, funded in 2015, is a learning module developed to introduce concepts of pretransfusion testing and transfusion practice and to explore concepts of interprofessional collaboration. The program involved recording short videos and photographing various aspects of the pretransfusion process. It also integrated existing resources and provided access to discussion forums where trainees can talk about issues or ask for clarification. Developed for the University of Alberta, opportunities to expand the program are being explored.

A web-based transfusion trivia game, Transfusion Quest, was designed to promote a fun and unique learning opportunity for technologists across Canada. It was one of the first projects funded by BloodTechNet in 2011. Fulfilling the obvious requirements of being “Blood”, “Tech”, and “Net” related, the game was a natural fit.

About BloodTechNet
The BloodTechNet Learning Fund was launched in 2011. The BloodTechNet Competition, with support from Grifols, facilitates the development of innovative educational projects that support the Transfusion, Cellular Therapy and Transplantation communities in Canada. This year’s BloodTechNet competition closes February 24, 2017.

International Collaboration for Transfusion Medicine Guidelines

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Established in 2011, the International Collaboration for Transfusion Medicine Guidelines – aka ICTMG – is a group of specialists comprising hematologists, physicians and methodologists from a variety of countries who work together to establish evidence-based transfusion medicine guidelines. Their goal is to create and promote these guidelines to optimize transfusion care around the globe.

Canadian Blood Services is proud to support the activities of the ICTMG. Through the Centre for Innovation, we provide administrative support to this international group that includes a healthy contingent of Canadian experts.  

Their published clinical guidelines and systematic reviews include:

  • Guidance on platelet transfusion for patients with hypoproliferative thrombocytopenia (Clinical Guideline 2015) 
  • Efficacy of HLA matched platelet transfusion for patients with hypoproliferative thrombocytopenia (Systematic Review 2013)
  • Utility of HLA cross-matched platelet transfusions in patients with hypoproliferative thrombocytopenia (Systematic Review 2014)

With the following currently in development:

  • Evidence-based guidelines for the management of fetal/neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia
  • Red cell specification for patients with hemoglobinopathy

Click here to access the clinical guidelines and other resources developed by the ICTMG.

In addition to recently launching a new website to host, collect and share their resources, the ICTMG produced (in collaboration with the AABB), an English-language podcast titled “Platelets Unplugged: The Sticky Truth”. It was developed for the international transfusion-medicine community and health care providers who may need to provide platelet transfusions.

Don’t miss these and other useful resources that you can use to promote evidence-based transfusion practices at your hospital.


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Upcoming Events:

Transfusion for All Ages
The 2017 Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine Conference. Ottawa - April 20-23, 2017
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The 12th Annual Transfusion Medicine Education Videoconference - April 12, 2017
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Did You Know?

Canadian Blood Services has a professional education website