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A New Milestone Met: 200 Hospitals Participating in Using Blood Wisely

In September 2020, Choosing Wisely Canada partnered with Canadian Blood Services to launch Using Blood Wisely, a national campaign to decrease inappropriate red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. Just over a year later, we are celebrating a new milestone—200 hospitals participating in the campaign.

Using Blood Wisely launched with a simple challenge: hospitals conduct spot audits of recent RBC transfusions to see how they compare with national appropriateness benchmarks. Hospitals that meet or exceed these benchmarks are recognized nationally and designated as “Using Blood Wisely” Hospitals. Those that don’t meet the benchmarks are eligible to enrol in a quality improvement initiative proven to reduce inappropriate RBC transfusions and apply for designation upon meeting these benchmarks.

Hospitals across the country enthusiastically took on this challenge and by December 2020, 100 hospitals enrolled in the campaign. Since then, another 100 hospitals have joined.

“The enthusiasm we have seen from participating hospitals in the Using Blood Wisely campaign has been incredible,” says Doreen Day, Project Manager for Using Blood Wisely and Pan-Canadian Initiatives at Choosing Wisely Canada. “It has been inspiring to see their collaboration, willingness to learn from one another, and continued pursuit of best practices. We look forward to our continued engagement and supporting sites through their implementation and designation journey.”

Why Are Hospitals Participating?   

Inappropriate transfusion practices are common in hospitals. While there has been an overall decline in RBC utilization in recent years, there remains significant variation in Canada as well as evidence of inappropriate transfusions. The COVID-19 pandemic has further illustrated the importance of using blood appropriately. Closures, backlogs, and resource constraints have put increasing pressure on the demand and supply of Canada’s blood products.

This is why undertaking quality improvement initiatives, like Using Blood Wisely, has never been more important. Aligning with evidence-based practices in transfusion medicine can not only lead to better efficiencies in Canada’s health care system, but also ensure blood is available when needed most.

Strengthening the National Blood Supply

To date, 80 of the participating hospitals have received the Using Blood Wisely designation. This is a testament to the leadership from hospitals across the country that are committed to blood stewardship.

Hospitals that have not yet met benchmarks are currently enrolled in a quality improvement program to identify and address barriers in RBC utilization. Using Blood Wisely continues to support hospitals in meeting benchmarks and qualifying for designation.

Our Next Milestone

There are approximately 460 hospitals that transfuse at least 690,000 units of blood in Canada. The hospitals currently involved in the campaign account for 66% of these transfused units. While the achievements to date have been impressive, Day indicated that there is more to do. “Using Blood Wisely is now working toward its next milestone of enrolling hospitals that account for 75% of the red blood cells transfused in Canada,” she said.

Haven’t joined yet?

Help us meet our next milestone by signing up to participate in Using Blood Wisely and be among the growing community of hospitals committed to strengthening Canada’s blood supply.

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