Assessing and managing potential risks

As an organization founded on the rigorous management of risk, we’ve become increasingly systematic in seeking input from a wider range of stakeholders.

As we assessed the best way to secure Canada’s plasma supply for immune globulin (Ig), we used an approach that we first developed in collaboration with the Alliance of Blood Operators: the internationally recognized Risk-Based Decision-Making Framework. The framework sets out a step-by-step process for grounding decisions in methodically collected evidence. It also helps us to redeploy resources to match any perceived threat to the blood system. And importantly, risk-based decision-making helps us to build a foundation of trust by soliciting and considering the views of all stakeholders who could be affected by an identified risk.

Through this approach, we weigh the possible benefits, disadvantages and costs of a particular course of action. We also take into account social impacts and ethical issues, which are informed at every stage by the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, including patient groups, health-care providers, industry experts, government officials and other stakeholders. Hearing from those most affected by our work to collect more plasma will help us to ensure that we meet their needs.

Other areas where we’ve adopted risk-based decision-making include:

  • A simplified testing protocol, introduced in 2017, for detecting cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibodies in donated blood.
  • More stringent eligibility criteria, adopted in 2016, to ensure blood donors maintain sufficient iron levels for their own good health.
  • A new waiting period for blood donation to protect the blood supply from the potential threat of the Zika virus, implemented in 2015 in coordination with other key players.
  • Proactive efforts to assess the emerging risk to Canadians from Babesia microti, a tick-borne parasite that infects red blood cells.
  • A joint assessment by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to assess the risk of hepatitis E to the Canadian blood supply.

Underpinning all of these activities is a robust enterprise risk management program that we’ve integrated into our strategic planning, performance reporting and project management processes. We are working on embedding this program into the management of our day-to-day operations and continuous improvement initiatives.