Overview

The Provincial Blood Coordinating Program (PBCP) works with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to ensure accountability, quality and safety of the national blood system in Alberta.

Accountability:

  • coordinates blood product management on behalf of AHS and the Alberta government
  • participates in provincial and interprovincial transfusion medicine committees

Quality:

  • develops provincial policies and procedures for the use of blood and blood products
  • develops a transparent blood inventory system with the ability to track products
  • standardizes transfusion processes throughout the province

Safety:

  • contributes adverse transfusion reaction data into the national Transfusion Transmitted Injuries Surveillance System (TTISS) in Alberta
  • develops educational materials with AHS to promote transfusion medicine safety and appropriateness

PBCP goals

The goals of the PBCP are to:

  • create and manage a unified approach to the delivery of transfusion medicine services in Alberta
  • provide leadership and coordination to deliver a blood system that is built on evidence-based clinical practice, is appropriate and responds to patient needs
  • provide oversight and monitoring to Alberta’s transfusion medicine programs to support a safe, secure and sustainable blood system

Alberta’s blood supply

The blood supply system in Alberta is part of the national blood supply system managed by CBS. The life cycle of donated blood in Alberta is from donor to recipient.

Canadian Blood Services (CBS)

CBS is the national, not-for-profit organization responsible for managing the blood supply in all provinces and territories except Québec, which is managed by Héma-Québec.

Donation

In Alberta, CBS has permanent and mobile blood donation clinics. Some donation sites also accept platelet and plasma donations, in addition to whole blood donations.

Blood donated and collected in Alberta can be shipped and used by patients in other provinces and territories.

Blood processing

Whole blood donations are processed into components such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.

Plasma can be used to produce more blood products. These products have many uses, such as treating certain illnesses like hemophilia or immune deficiency.

Hospitals have a supply of blood in a “blood bank” for use in emergency care and surgery. The hospital blood bank tests the recipient’s blood to make sure it will match the donated blood. Some smaller hospitals cannot do the testing, so they send blood samples to larger urban hospitals for testing.

If a patient receives the wrong type of blood, dangerous consequences can occur. To ensure this does not happen, the blood recipient’s identity is always checked.

All blood products have an expiry date:

  • red cells – 42 days after donation
  • platelets – 7 days
  • frozen plasma – 1 year

Blood inventory planning

The Alberta Blood Contingency Plan was developed to help the province respond appropriately in the event of a blood shortage.

Read the Alberta Blood Contingency Plan

Read the National Plan for Management of Shortages of Labile Blood Components  (PDF, 2.2 MB)

Transfusion safety

Safety is the number one priority in the Canadian blood system. The PBCP ensures Alberta’s blood supply is safe by managing a surveillance program and developing training and education programs for transfusion medicine specialists.

Before a transfusion, the patient’s physician must establish informed consent from the patient or their decision maker. Once informed consent and testing are complete, a transfusion can occur, but only after verbal and visual confirmation of the patient’s identity.

Occasionally patients have an adverse reaction to transfusions. When this happens, there is an investigation to discover the reason for the reaction. To improve the safety of transfusion medicine, hospitals send reports on adverse transfusion reactions to the PBCP.

Reporting adverse reactions to transfusions

Hospitals in all provinces and territories report adverse transfusion reactions voluntarily into TTISS , which is managed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). This allows PHAC, provinces and territories to monitor known transfusion risks and address new transfusion risks in the national blood supply.

The goal of the transfusion surveillance system is to improve transfusion processes and patient safety in Canada.

Learn more about TTISS on the PHAC website.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a transfusion reaction (PDF, 35 KB).

Learn more about the transfusion reaction algorithm table(PDF, 68 KB).

Alberta’s involvement

Alberta has actively participated in the TTISS program since 2007. Every year, a progress report of the TTISS data in Alberta is prepared. The report provides information about adverse transfusion reactions to the public and to the transfusion medicine specialists in Alberta.

Informed consent

Informed consent is a legal procedure that ensures patients know the benefits and risks of receiving a blood transfusion or blood product. Informed consent also ensures that patients are aware of any of other alternative therapies, prior to having a blood transfusion.

Learn more about informed consent to transfusion.

Read about consent to blood and blood products (PDF, 119 KB).

Informed consent and transfusion medicine

Getting informed consent is an important aspect of transfusion medicine safety.

It is important that every patient know the benefits, risks and potential medically appropriate alternatives before receiving blood or blood products, to help inform their decisions.

Informed consent is a requirement for accreditation of all hospital facilities that provide products for transfusion.

Contact

Connect with the PBCP.