Home/Resources / CSTM Blog / Transfusion Medicine: Interpretation Required

Transfusion Medicine: Interpretation Required

Author: Crystal Brunk, Regional Transfusion Medicine Clinician, Provincial Health Services Authority
St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC

Not long after starting work as a nurse in transfusion medicine, I overheard one of the technologists talking about a patient’s DAT…I thought to myself “what does the patient’s diet have to do with transfusion medicine because DAT = diet as tolerated where I come from” (also to go along with my first blog I questioned that I  was really in over my head because I had no idea that diet played this big of a role in transfusions - what have I gotten myself into?)…Spoiler alert no one in the laboratory aside from myself was thinking about the patient’s diet.

This was the first time I realized that as a nurse in the world of transfusion medicine, I did not always speak or understand the language. I quickly caught on that DAT = direct antiglobulin test and is used in transfusion reaction investigations but this was one of those “A-Ha” moments. I learned that as health care professionals, we all speak this complicated medical language with different dialects that can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. I use terms like QD (daily), QID (four times daily), and PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) that sometimes make no sense to the technologists I am working with and then I go to regional meetings and we use the acronym MTP (massive transfusion protocol) but learn after much confused conversation that MTP to one site means this A-La-Cart ordering of products whereas at another site it is a specific organized set of products that are sent out of transfusion medicine.

So what? Well this complicated language is very likely the root cause of some of the difficult conversations we have with each other and why we do not feel like we are always effectively communicating. When I first started in my role as transfusion medicine clinician, I told people that I was the link between laboratory staff and frontline staff for all things transfusion; however, more and more I feel that interpreter is the more appropriate noun. Everyone wants safe patient care and in order to get there we need to understand what each other wants/needs/does and how we each contribute to the process.

Learning this language has been fun for me but my “pearl” of wisdom to share is that we do sometimes speak different languages and that we may need some extra time for understanding when conversations get difficult because the root cause may be as simple as recognizing that DAT is not always about one’s diet.

 Your comments are encouraged!!

This blog is moderated and comments will be published upon approval.


Dr. Karen L Dallas
Love this post! Funny but oh so true!

As represented in these neat images too:
1/28/2020 9:20:15 PM

Well done Crystal. I constantly need to remind myself that not everyone speaks transfusion language.
1/28/2020 2:21:34 PM

 Security code