Informatics and Blood Banking Prove a Winning Combination for ASCP Pathologist
Monday, December 3, 2012
Blood donor and recipient safety are still in their infancy in the United States, but that is changing in part because of a new database to store and analyze this information, according to Kevin Land, MD, FASCP, Senior Medical Director of Field Operations at Arizona-based Blood Systems, Inc.
“Until recently, the United States had no systematic and standardized way to capture adverse event data for blood transfusions, which limits the ability to improve outcomes and develop policy.”
—Kevin Land, MD, FASCP
“We have needed a process in the United States to track standard and more complete information about blood, tissue, and cell therapy-related adverse events,” he says. “While hemovigilance efforts did already occur within several individual institutions, the systems were largely manual and institution-specific.”
A specialist in transfusion medicine and informatics, Dr. Land was recently named to Modern Healthcare’s list of “2012 Top 10 Informaticists.” He has devoted his career both to blood donor and patient safety.
“Until recently, the United States had no systematic and standardized way to capture adverse event data for blood transfusions, which limits the ability to improve outcomes and develop policy,” Dr. Land says.
More than five years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration examined transfusion-related mortalities and determined that the United States was lagging behind other countries, especially Western Europe, in the hemovigilance of donors and recipients. It issued a call to systematically address the situation.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Association of Blood Banks partnered to develop the U.S. Biovigilance Network, to collect and analyze nationwide data to reduce adverse events associated with a broad range of biologic therapies. Dr. Land now chairs the Donor Hemovigilance arm of the Network, comprising representatives from Americas Blood Centers, the American Red Cross, hospital-based blood collectors, the U.S. Armed Forces, the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, and Canadian Blood Services. An outside vendor, KBSI, developed the software.
The consortium examined which components a central data collection system should comprise and adopted or developed standardized data set definitions. It engaged three blood collection facilities of various sizes to serve as pilot centers for the project. Blood Systems, Inc. was the largest. Bonfils Blood Center, in Denver, where Dr. Land served as the chief medical scientific officer when the consortium began, served as the medium-size center. Coffee Memorial Blood Center, in Amarillo, Texas, represented the smaller collection facilities.
The pilot centers have been using the new system and processes developed by the consortium now for three years. By reviewing the data they have collected, they were able to spot opportunities in how they manage blood donors and have reduced adverse events in each of their centers.
There are now 22 blood collection facilities across the country in varying stages of implementing the system. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is now coordinating recipient hemovigilance efforts. Adoption for both efforts has been slowed by competing priorities within institution information technology systems, although the importance of these efforts is understood.
“The Department of Health and Human Services deserves a lot of credit for funding the donor hemovigilance project,” Dr. Land says. “In addition, everyone on the working group worked hard. KBSI took the great ideas and developed a system that is easy to use and freely available.”
In addition to the leadership he provides the consortium, Dr. Land has also lent his expertise to ASCP, where he serves on the Editorial Board of Lab Medicine and as Associate Editor for Immunohematology.
“I have been impressed with his commitment to excellence in all his pursuits,” says Roger L. Bertholf, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Lab Medicine. “I applaud Dr. Land’s pioneering work in developing and promoting hemovigilance tools that help blood centers ensure donor safety.”