Sokolowski, Banks Present Medical M&S Research in Copenhagen
VMASC executive director John Sokolowski, and Dr. Catherine Banks returned from the 13th Annual Network for Advancement of Transfusion Alternatives (NATA) Symposium with a wealth of information and a sense of validation that the immersive simulation training tool under development at VMASC is of great interest to medical professionals throughout Europe and Africa. VMASC’s Patient Blood Management tool is a clinical approach to patient safety aimed at improving patient outcome by minimizing or eliminating blood transfusions.
The medical conference, attended by over 500 primarily physicians from 38 countries including Nigeria and South Africa, is an international network of medical practitioners and researchers whose primary goal is to provide education in the field of transfusion medicine, with a specific focus on transfusion alternatives. Sokolowski and Banks quickly learned that the Patient Blood Management Training Tool can well-serve this audience in meeting their mission. Specific interest in the tool came from physicians from Great Britain, Denmark, Poland, and Nigeria. Interestingly, these countries are all at different levels of capability in terms of transfusion alternatives and patient blood management.
British doctors were so interested that they offered to be a beta test site for our simulation software; the site would be the medical school and hospital that is associated with Oxford University. Poland also has an interest in patient blood management as the means of providing a gold standard of care. Aryeh Shander, medical collaborator on the tool, traveled to Krakow to train physicians at a hospital there. As a result, many Poles throughout the country travel to the Krakow for surgery.
Denmark has the highest percentage of transfusion in all of Europe. Dr. Astrid Norgaard, Copenhagen University Hospital, represented research to what has been the standard practice of 2-unit transfusions in surgical patients questioning why the practice has not been revised. Her findings were that the transfusion training holds to a dichotomous view: liberal or restricted. In Denmark the approach is liberal. In speaking to Drs. Sokolowski and Banks, Norgaard expressed deep concern that this is not a patient-centered approach. Her task from the hospital administration is to realign that training and thinking to a restrictive approach. Needless to say, her interest in the VMASC project was profound.
As for Nigeria, their greatest problem with blood and blood products used for transfusion is that they lack the means to adequately screen donors. Alarmingly, HIV is highly prevalent in Nigeria. Dr. Nathaniel Usoro commented on the fact that he applied the patient blood management standard of care to all his patients; less due to the fact that he has major concerns about the blood supply available for transfusion, but more because he believes all patients should receive individualized medical attention that focuses on patiently treating the patient to recover using alternative therapies such as iron, B12, erythropoietin (to encourage red blood replacement).
The simulation training tool using actual patient cases has been developed to train or newly educate physicians via interactive, immersive instruction focusing on blood management decision-making. All of these individuals, in representing their institutions, spent a good deal of time with Drs. Sokolowski and Banks, expressing the desire to make use of the training tool when it becomes available.
Overall, the NATA conference proved an excellent opportunity to network with our European colleagues. The VMASC poster was heavily visited every day. Information brochures were made available for these visitors. And hopefully, future partnerships were formed. Click here for more information about VMASC's Patient Blood Management simulation tool.