Another great success for annual educational transfusion medicine symposium

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 Jenny Ryan

Since 2007, Canadian Blood Services and the Ontario Regional Blood Coordinating Network (ORBCoN) co-chair the planning and execution of an annual transfusion medicine symposium in partnership with a community hospital. The involvement of the community hospital is key in identifying topics of relevance to the transfusion issues faced by their health care professionals. The community hospital also serves as the host site for the symposium, from where the speakers present to the local audience and from where the lectures are webcasted to more participants.

Blood and Guts: Management of the GI Bleed

This year’s conference was hosted by Health Sciences North in Sudbury. Titled "Blood and Guts: Management of the GI Bleed", the educational program focused on managing the bleeding GI patient, with the specific objective of being able to identify key factors that determine the need for transfusion in community hospital emergency rooms when dealing with a GI bleed. Lectures were delivered by four outstanding speakers from Sudbury, Ottawa, Cobourg and Boston. They shared tools to assess the severity of the GI bleed, provided best practices for treating bleeding in patients with advanced liver disease, compared the available options for anticoagulant reversal in the GI bleed setting, and discussed strategies for red blood cell utilization.  

Speakers and presentations:

Dr. Michèle Brûlé Managing the GI bleeding patient in the community hospital setting 

Dr. Walter H. (Sunny) Dzik Managing coagulopathies in liver disease 

Dr. Marc Carrier Reversal of anticoagulants in the patien with GI bleeding 

Dr. Allison Collins Quality improvements in transfusion medicine

From provincial to national reach

Initially the symposium was targeted at professionals in hospitals located in central and northern Ontario. However, in the last few years, thanks to the great videoconferencing and webcasting technology provided by the Ontario Telemedicine Network, we have expanded our reach to include more hospitals across Ontario and Canada. In fact, this year, we saw the participation of 107 healthcare facilities including 23 from out of province. With the participation of nine Canadian Blood Services sites, two pharmaceutical companies and one post-secondary institute, we are also engaging a more varied type of transfusion medicine stakeholders.

Who attended the symposium?

This year we had 1038 professionals in attendance. Such record attendance is made possible by repeating the session twice during the day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to allow busy professionals to attend the symposium around their hospital rounds or bench work. The majority of attendees were medical laboratory technologists (57%), registered nurses (19%) and physicians (5%).

How did attendees find the event?

In a survey completed after the event, 96 per cent of the respondents said they would recommend this educational event to their colleagues indicating that we are providing relevant information in the right format. What is also very encouraging is the potential impact this educational event may have on transfusion practice. Indeed, 77 per cent of respondents indicated that after attending this event they would somewhat modify their practice behavior. Some of the comments received from attendees are also very positive and are encouraging us to continue this initiative:

“This is a great learning experience, with wonderful speakers. I was able to come away with a better overall picture as to the care and decisions towards a patient.”

“Very good topics, I believed they covered everything and it was really interesting.”

“I liked that you had the two sessions, very helpful for staff that were on the job.”

Have you missed out on this event?

No worries, they've got you covered! The recorded presentations will be available for one year on the ORBCoN website's webcasting centre. The PowerPoint presentations are downloadable from the “What’s New” section on the ORBCoN main page.

The team would love to hear what topics you would like them to cover during this event. Please send your suggestions to

Kudos to the dedicated and hard work of the Planning Committee members who made this event a success.


This article was produced in cooperation with Tracy Cameron and Sophie Chargé. 

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.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services.



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