HomeMedicine By SpecialtyEmergency MedicineQuick reference cards for blood product put patient safety first

Quick reference cards for blood product put patient safety first

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The recent development of quick reference cards to help clinicians identify when to use the life-saving blood product Octaplex, has improved patient safety and enhanced care at The Scarborough Hospital (TSH).

Three years ago TSH, was one of the first hospitals in Canada to begin using Octaplex to treat emergency reversal of bleeding for patients on warfarin, an anticoagulant normally used to prevent blood clots. Since its introduction, more than 200 patients have received Octaplex – 90 per cent in the emergency department and 10 per cent on the nursing units – and have benefited from this safe and efficient method of delivering care.

“The reference cards include information like who should receive Octaplex, how to administer it, dosing information and how long it works,” says Laura McKenzie-Kerr, ONTraC Nurse with The Scarborough Hospital. “We designed the cards so they attach to staff ID tags for easy access and to remind clinicians that Octaplex is not only available, but a better way to provide care than using frozen plasma.”

Laura adds that education sessions, presentations and other resources have been created to encourage the use of Octaplex, but the resource cards, funded by Octapharma, are an easy and consistent reminder of this effective product.

“While Octaplex does not replace frozen plasma in all situations,” explains Dr. Henry Krieger, Oncologist and Hematologist at The Scarborough Hospital. “We now have a more effective and safer product to use when warfarin anticoagulation needs to be quickly reversed.”

Patient and long-time volunteer, Jerry Thurston, appreciated first-hand the high-quality care supported by Octaplex in a recent visit to the hospital’s emergency department.

Jerry required International Normalization Ratio (INR) reversal immediately, and while frozen plasma takes approximately half an hour per bag to thaw, and two to three hours to give, Jerry was able to receive Octaplex in 30 minutes. He was discharged a few days later, spending less than five days in the hospital.

“Everything happened very quickly,” says Jerry, who has been a Scarborough resident since 1963. “It’s great The Scarborough Hospital can offer services to help patients receive better and faster care.”

More importantly the 80 milligram dosage Jerry received did not affect his heart condition whereas receiving two or three litres of plasma could have caused a potential fluid overload. In the event Jerry had needed surgery, waiting to receive plasma could have delayed the procedure, which would have increased the risk to his safety and kept him in hospital longer.

Octaplex is also compatible with every blood type, which increases patient safety and decreases the reliance on donors.

Other benefits provided by Octaplex include:
•    Less time to administer – saves nursing time
•    No thawing or screening – saves lab time
•    No special tubing – saves money
•    Viral inactivated – increases patient safety

Most importantly Octaplex begins working almost immediately to save the lives of patients, like Jerry, who was able to recover quickly and return to helping others through his volunteer work at TSH.


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