Sandra Bakker leading GGH’s adoption of best practice in blood analysis

Employing an automated blood analyzer for blood-type identification and matching is best practice for a hospital of Guelph General’s size.

Blood-matching analysis is necessary for patients requiring a blood-transfusion.  Patients may require a blood transfusion as part of surgery, as part of disease management, such as in anemia or cancer, or in emergencies where there is severe blood loss due to trauma.

And when babies are born at Guelph General Hospital, their blood-type must be determined and recorded.

When Sandra Bakker took on the role of Charge Technologist, Transfusion Medicine at GGH, she identified an opportunity to improve the laboratory’s blood analysis process and advocated for an automated blood analyzer.

“Most hospitals of GGH’s size have an automated blood analyzer,” said Bakker. “It replaces a lengthy manual process which gives technologists more time for data interpretation and decision-making, as well as performing other important tasks in the lab.”

The automated process uses barcode technology, eliminating risk of data transfer errors. The analyzer outputs data about blood type and antibodies, but it is still the medical laboratory technologist who interprets the results and makes decisions on the best blood-match.

In an emergency situation such as a trauma resulting in rapid blood loss, the automated analyzer will free up the technologist to focus on providing blood products for the patient and interact with the patient’s healthcare team while the analyzer performs testing in the background on other less urgent samples.

Sandra, along with other key members of her team, are taking the lead on re-writing processes and training laboratory staff on the use of the new piece of equipment.

“Implementing change is a lot of work, but so well worth it when it means we can deliver better quality care to our patients at GGH,” said Bakker.

The automated blood analyzer was funded by donations from the Hospital’s kind and caring donors – this important change would not have been possible without them. In this regard, Sandra and her team recognize the Hospital’s donors as also being leaders in patient care excellence.

Janine Chevrier, Laboratory Technologist, demonstrates the former manual process of preparing test tubes.