The Lessons of the Tainted Blood Scandal in Canada
The tainted blood disaster that took place in Canada in the 1980s was a dramatic lesson to be learned by the country. Over 30,000 patients were infected with hepatitis C or HIV-AIDS due to the transfusions of contaminated blood. Since then, a set of policies and standards have been introduced to ensure that all safety measures are properly undertaken and blood transfusions or donations are safe. Canadian Blood Services started managing the process in 1998, and there has been no recorded case of patients infected with HIV-AIDS or hepatitis C. The process of blood transmission and donation has become characterized by the use of the precautionary approach. The existing deferral policies are rather strict and multifaceted, which causes certain challenges. On the one hand, safety is ensured, but the blood supply is sometimes insufficient, which leads to the need to receive blood from the USA or other countries and international organizations. At that, the safety measures of these suppliers are different and can be seen as insufficient under certain circumstances.
At present, the Canadian healthcare policies need some revision due to the changing situation. Walsh et al. (2016) note that some policies should be revised, and some of them should not be used these days. It is also suggested that technological advances can help in addressing the issue of blood transmissions and donations. The pathogen inactivation that is widely used is likely to undergo significant changes due to associated costs. Donor-free (for example, ex vivo generated) blood products are also seen as the future of blood transmission. Hence, it is possible to note that the existing safety measures proved to be effective in protecting people from being infected with blood-borne diseases during blood transfusions. However, these methods need regular revision in order to ensure that they are cost-effective.