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Transfusion Camp carries on: educating physicians about using blood wisely


Tuesday, September 15, 2020 Guest Author

By Dr. Yulia Lin and Casey Kapitany 

Blood transfusion is one of the most commonly ordered procedures in hospitals. In Canada, more than 1 million red blood cell units are transfused every year, thanks to the generosity of blood donors. Optimizing the use of each precious, potentially life-saving unit of blood, in ways that maximize their effectiveness and safety while avoiding waste, is a critical goal for physicians who prescribe blood for their patients. That’s where Transfusion Camp — a program established in 2012 by the University of Toronto QUEST Program, a research collaborative supported by Canadian Blood Services — comes in. Transfusion Camp is an educational program that teaches physicians how to use blood wisely. For medical and surgical residents who are undergoing training in specialties that are high users of blood, such as anesthesia, critical care, hematology, and obstetrics, the program is especially relevant.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we questioned whether Transfusion Camp could continue. Typically, one day of camp (completing the program involves 5 days of camp throughout the academic year) involves several lectures and small team-based learning seminars with local transfusion experts. Transfusion Camp participants have different options for viewing lectures: they can attend in person, join live via webinar, or view a recording. We found ourselves faced with the dual challenge of avoiding group gatherings and potentially losing some of our scheduled speakers — physicians focused on urgent concerns brought on by COVID-19 who were now unable to attend. With our next Transfusion Camp day scheduled just weeks away, we needed to quickly adapt.

In partnership with Canadian Blood Services, and with the collaboration of 11 participating universities across the country, we achieved the not-insignificant task of reworking one day of Transfusion Camp into a morning webinar session that incorporated a brief update on supply and use of blood during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 200 resident physicians joined the session, representing 13 different postgraduate programs and 4 provinces.

Those who participated expressed their gratitude that the program was able to carry on despite the challenges—a testament to the strength of the program and the value it brings to clinicians. Based on our evaluations of the program, we know it’s effective. The QUEST research group has shown that after participating in the program, residents’ transfusion knowledge improved and confidence in their transfusion-related abilities increased. Residents also reported that Transfusion Camp had an impact on their transfusion behaviour and they would highly recommend it to others. We continue to look at how we can improve the Transfusion Camp curriculum through qualitative research.

As we plan for the next year of Transfusion Camp, it is clear that the lessons we’ve learned by delivering the program during this difficult time will help us make Transfusion Camp even better. By helping physicians learn about using blood wisely, Transfusion Camp continues to serve an important role in improving patient care in Canada.

Transfusion Camp speakers: (top row l-r) Yulia Lin, Katerina Pavenski, Christine Cserti-Gazdewich (bottom row l-r) Nancy Robitaille, Steven Drews, Michelle Zeller
Transfusion Camp speakers: (top row l-r) Yulia Lin, Katerina Pavenski, Christine Cserti-Gazdewich (bottom row l-r) Nancy Robitaille, Steven Drews, Michelle Zeller

About the authors

Dr. Yulia Lin is division head, transfusion medicine & tissue bank at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and associate professor in the department of laboratory medicine & pathobiology at the University of Toronto.

Casey Kapitany is coordinator of programs & reporting at Canadian Blood Services' Centre for Innovation.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

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