Teachable Moments

Transfusion is the most common procedure performed in our in-patient and out-patient facilities, representing a high-volume, high-risk process. Sadly enough, general knowledge regarding appropriate transfusion practice, anemia management, blood conservation modalities and other PBM strategies are notoriously lacking for most healthcare providers.

The Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusions (BEST-TEST) investigators highlight the need for ongoing commitment to education. This group first developed, validated and studied a transfusion medicine knowledge assessment tool in 2014 as an international collaborative for evaluation of internal medicine residents.¹ Internal medicine trainees in this original BEST-TEST study had a mean knowledge score of 45.7%. Just this February, the BEST-TEST2 results were published and, once again, reinforce the need for a focused curriculum for our physicians-in-training.²  Hematology residents in the current BEST-TEST2 study had a mean score of 61.6%. Of concern is that the lowest scores were related to questions regarding transfusion reactions/transfusion-associated adverse events.

Having been 20 years in private practice and subsequently 5 years consulting with numerous facilities on Transfusion Medicine/Patient Blood Management issues, it is glaringly apparent to me that we, as laboratorians, play a vital role in the day-to-day “teachable moments”. Studies such as these, with tools that provide meaningful data, could potentially be expanded to target education for all healthcare providers, ultimately utilized for on-going updates in the field of Transfusion Medicine and PBM.

As members of ASCP, it is incumbent upon us to take an active role in the provision of education for our colleagues. Sharing the evidence and experience will promote the effort for optimal, safer patient care and potentially avoid unnecessary transfusion and their potential serious risks.


1. Haspel R et al. Transfus 2014; 54: 1225-1230.

2. Lin Y et al. Transfus 2016; 56: 304-310.



-Dr. Burns was a private practice pathologist, and Medical Director for the Jewish Hospital Healthcare System in Louisville, KY. for 20 years. She has practiced both surgical and clinical pathology and has been an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville. She is currently available for consulting in Patient Blood Management and Transfusion Medicine. You can reach her at cburnspbm@gmail.com.

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