Friday, October 29, 2004

Québec eliminates upper age limit for donors

You know the population is aging when they want your blood until you drop! On 31 October 2004 Héma-Québec (the blood supplier in the Canadian province of Québec) will eliminate the upper age limit for donors.

There are several safety criteria involving approval from the donor's physician but it seems that so long as "the bod is warm" and you are in good health, you can now be a life-long blood donor.

A few statisics to ponder:
  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2004 ~5.6 million (17.7%) of Canada's total population of 32 million are over 60.
  • In Canada only 3.7 % of eligible people are blood donors. By comparison, 6% of Britains donate blood; in the USA, Ireland and Japan, the figure is ~5%, while in Taiwan, it's 7.5 % - nearly double the total in Canada.

With demographics like these we definitely need our oldsters - tried and true donors with multiple donations to their credit, to continue to give, and give, and give.....


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Friday, October 22, 2004

vCJD found in frequent donor in France

Now that vCJD has been found in a frequent blood donor in France, it will be interesting to see if French officials follow the lead of the UK who notified 1000s of donors in September that they may be at increased risk of carrying vCJD. The donor's blood was transfused to 10 recipients but was also used to make unspecified "medicines" - enough for several 1000 people.

See TraQ's
vCJD clearinghouse

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Monday, October 18, 2004

Readers beware

Two articles added today to TraQ's International News section present different "takes" on the same session held at a major transfusion medicine conference in Australia.The first article from The Age is titled Safety call on hospital blood use and begins, "Doctors yesterday called for identity wristbands for all blood transfusion patients to protect against the potentially fatal consequences of receiving the wrong blood type." The second article from the Sydney Morning Herald (Hospitals ignoring blood label rules) begins, "Blood transfusion protocols are being shunned in some hospitals, posing a potentially fatal threat to patient health, a conference has heard."

From what was reported in the articles, Dr. Lorna Wilkinson discussed the UK SHOT scheme. Chris Hogan (an Australian hematologist) and Neil Boyce (of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service) spoke on efforts in Australia to improve processes and develop a reporting scheme such as SHOT. All speakers noted the rare but potentially fatal consequences of identification errors.

From my perspective, The Age news report presents a more balanced view than the Sydney Morning Herald report does. The latter's headline (Hospitals ignoring blood label rules) sets the tone for the article and is misleading.

* Joint Annual Meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion, Hematology Society of Australia, and the Australian Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis (17-24 October, Melbourne)

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

CSTM standards

Canadians comprise an outward looking country and tend to be international in scope. In practice this translates into looking at standards and guidelines from other countries when developing our own, e.g., AABB standards, ANZSBT and BCSH guidelines

Assuming that those in other countries may take a similar approach, I would like to recommend the new Standards of the Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine (CSTM):

  • Standards for Hospital Transfusion Services, v. 1

    CSTM Standards comply with Blood and Blood Components (CSA Z902-04), which encompass standards for both hospitals and blood centres.

    Written in user friendly language, the CSTM Standards eliminate the "regulese" often found in regulatory documents. Whenever possible, they present the standards in sequences that correlate to how transfusion professionals practice, for example, the work flow within hospital transfusion services.

    Those outside of Canada may find them useful for how the CSTM has approached impending government regulation of hospital transfusion services, a situation analogous to the implications of the EU Blood Directive for the UK and other European transfusion services.

    Disclosure: I am the webmaster of the CSTM.

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  • Friday, October 15, 2004

    Canada's TSO mailing list

    Having just posted several messages to "transfusion" - a bilingual mailing list for Canada's Transfusion Safety Officers (TSOs) - reminds me to promote this valuable resource to those working in Canada's blood system (technologists, nurses, physicians, etc.)

    You do not have to be a TSO to join but you do have to work in Canada (translation costs preclude opening the list to worldwide subscribers).

    To join "transfusion", please read the TSO FAQ, then contact with your details.

    Disclosure: I am also the TSO webmaster and list manager.

    What's new on TraQ

    TraQ has a blog!

    TraQ has a blog - a web log named On TraQ for transfusion medicine professionals about everything related to transfusion. A blog is an online journal using software that makes it easy to update throughout the day.

    The blog will allow me to expand on some of the resources posted on TraQ and will include recommendations and views that are solely my personal responsibility, not that of TraQ.

    Let me know if there is anything you would like to see added here.

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    Cheers, Pat (TraQ web coordinator)

    Editorial with evidence-based approach

    Thought you should see the format of On TraQ from the get-go. The style will be informal and the content will reflect whatever's on my mind.

    If you are interested evidence-based medicine and want a transfusion-related example of how to approach analysing papers critically, this editorial is a keeper:
    Do transfusions get to the heart of the matter? Hébert PC, Fergusson DA. JAMA 2004;292:1610-2.

    The editorial is worth it for what it shows about how to evaluate the literature. Even if you don't normally have access to JAMA, make the effort and find out how you can get copies of journal articles. Ask your medical director or hospital librarian. It will be a good exercise in professional development/continuing education.

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