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TSO Mailing List

Pat Letendre:

It's my pleasure to write a blog on the Transfusion Safety Officer (TSO) mailing list.

Folks, I'd like to tell you about a fabulous Canadian transfusion resource that you may not be aware of. It's a mailing list called transfusion and it resulted from the 2000 CSTM Conjoint Annual Conference with CBS and Héma-Québec in Québec City.

What follows is a brief history, what the list is for, rationales for subscribing and how to subscribe.


As mentioned, the list began at the 2000 CSTM conference in Québec City. In 1994 I had created a mailing list for all medical lab professionals (MEDLAB-L, initially hosted by the University of Alberta where I taught) and was asked by Kate Gagliardi and Julie Ditomasso of Hamilton's HSC if I could create one for Canada's fledgling transfusion safety officers (TSOs). Naturally, I said yes. 

In 2002 Yvan Rousseau, an RN TSO at McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) approached me to create and be the webmaster of a TSO website. Soon one was created in English and French with a bilingual listserv mailing list run using Éric Thomas's listserv (Éric, an Internet pioneer, while a student in Paris, developed listserv software in 1986 and in 1995 turned it commercial as LSoft).  Yvan procured an education grant to fund the website and mailing list. 

Later Anna Urbanek, RN, of MUHC became the main MUHC contact. After Québec created an association and website for TSOs, the TSO list ceased being bilingual. For over a decade the MUHC person responsible for funding the list has been Ann Wilson, the current CSTM President.  I have been privileged to be the list manager from the onset.

As of May 2, 2017 the TSO website is kindly hosted by the CSTM. And, yes, you can subscribe to the mailing list without being a CSTM member. Which brings me to a personal note, a sidebar on a topic related to the blog's main message. Please indulge the oldster while I discuss something I'm passionate about to this day.


Folks, I've been a CSTM member from the get-go and the Canadian Association of Immunohematologists, the forerunner of the CSTM, before that. In my career I've always believed in giving back to the profession that has treated me (Subject RT in transfusion science, now defunct) so wonderfully. 

Besides CSTM (now retired member status), I'm fortunate to have life-long memberships in both CSMLS and AABB after decades of membership in both. I know it's tough these days to pay to be registered by provincial regulatory bodies, plus take out membership in CSMLS, and for blood bankers, in CSTM. 

But at $120/yr CSTM membership is a bargain. That's only 33 ¢/dy and the benefits are many. 

Also, nurses are very welcome as CSTM members (and as TSO mailing list subscribers). See, for example, this blog by nurse Crystal Brunk:

Like Crystal I'm into "Ask not what your professional association can do for you - ask what you can do for your association." In the long run I guarantee that will pay off, not only tangibly in the contacts you make that help your career, but in job satisfaction and lifelong learning opportunities and friendships you will treasure. 

Plus, I encourage you to talk to your employers about getting CSTM institutional membership. To me, every Canadian hospital that hosts a transfusion service should have such a membership for its staff. 

Which brings me to Julie Hendry's presentation at CSTM 2019. Julie is 2019 recipient of the CSTM's  Buchanan Award and the recipient gets to give a talk at the conference. At the end of Julie's talk she issued a challenge and it's a darn good one. Please consider it.


Although initially created for TSOs, from the beginning many subscribers have not had that job per se. Subscribers from across Canada include:

  • Medical technologists with any job description: TSOs, bench techs, quality assurance techs, supervisors, managers, educators
  • Over the years we have had a few industry representatives on the list, a few who worked for Health Canada, and perhaps one physician.

The transfusion list encourages open discussion on any matter related to Canadian transfusion medicine practice both in transfusion service laboratories and on the wards where blood is transfused. Supplying references for opinions is encouraged. Subscribers can both ask question and reply to or comment on posted messages. For example, subscribers have asked question on topics such as 

  • How to interpret Canadian standards: 
    • CSTM Standards for Hospital Transfusion Services
    • CAN/CSA-Z902-15, National Standard of Canada, Blood and blood components
    • Health Canada Blood Regulations. 
  • Massive Transfusion Policy as a Contingency Code/paging system
  • Job descriptions for transfusion practitioners, e.g.,
    • Transfusion safety nurses/officers
    • Patient blood management nurses/officers
    • Hemovigilance nurses/officers
  • Home infusion patients receiving factor VIII and factor IX at home - Do they  complete and return transfusion cards for the products they receive?
  • Does anyone have educational resources on the use of satellite fridges for clinical and allied healthcare staff?
  • For platelet and plasma transfusions, what are the requirements for pretransfusion testing?
    • Q1. Is an in-date specimen required?
    • Q2. Do results of the antibody screen impact the selection of the component?
    • Q3. If you use a unique identification system (Typenex band or equivalent system) for pretransfusion testing, is the use of the band required for transfusion of these components?
  • What blood components do you currently include in your massive transfusion protocol?
  • When an antibody screen is positive in an Rh negative female who has received Rh immune globulin: What process is used to investigate the positive screen?
  • Policies for issuing an incompatible unit, for example, when a patient has an autoantibody
  • Ways to ensure the temperature of units dispensed to satellite refrigerators
  • Policies for issuing plasma with only one blood group
  • Policies for issuing group O RBCs to patients with only one ABO/Rh:  immediate spin-crossmatch or uncrossmatched group O cells?
  • Flow cytometry versus Kleihauer to measure fetal-maternal bleeds
  • Posts about current transfusion-related news items or resources


Note that many of Canada's leading transfusionists, both medical technologists and RNs, subscribe. The transfusion list has many benefits, including it's an easy, no-cost way to:

  • Network with colleagues across Canada
  • Become aware of hot transfusion practice topics
  • Ask questions, any question and get advice from peers
  • Compare your practices to those of your colleagues
  • Help colleagues by sharing your expertise
  • Access contact information for Canadian colleagues
  • Access list archives from Oct. 2002 to the present


See Transfusion Safety Officers on the CSTM website


So there you have it. A brief history of the list's origins, its purpose and benefits, and how to subscribe. Please consider subscribing. The transfusion list welcomes new contributors whether to ask questions, reply, or comment. Let your voice be heard. The message volume is not large and messages are moderated but just for a consistent style and proof-reading to correct typos. As a result the signal-to-noise ratio is excellent.

Thank you.
Pat Letendre

 Your comments are encouraged!!

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


Pat Letendre
Thanks, Crystal.You make a good point. Sometimes you don't know you have a question until someone asks it. Over the years many have asked new questions related to ones already asked. An 'Oh, that reminds me' moment.
11/16/2019 5:37:12 PM

Crystal Brunk
I can vouch for this list being an amazing resource, questions that you did not know you have get asked and answered and as someone new to the transfusion world I am excited when I can contribute and help to develop the knowledge of others. Thanks to all those who came before me and got this started!
11/16/2019 5:38:22 AM

Pat Letendre
Anne, you are one of those I call the 'good guys' who have contributed so much for many years to Canada's blood system, yet fly under the radar. All the best for a well deserved retirement. I for one will never forget your contributions to the TSO list and beyond. Yep, I'll update your e-mail so that you - an exemplary transfusion professional - can keep up-to-date on the latest.
11/13/2019 9:46:32 PM

Anne Robinson
Hi Pat, How timely! I have been a member of this group for may years and it has been an invaluable resource. As I prepare to retire ( end of the year-Yikes!) I was wondering if you would switch my email to the one listed above so I can continue to keep up on the latest in TM? Thanks for all you have done to maintain this group.
11/13/2019 7:36:41 PM

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