Directed Blood Donation: A Matter of Public Trust
Health Law in Canada. 1996 Aug; 17(1): 10-19.
Trust is the key issue in blood treatment with respect to public policy. Public trust in the blood system in Canada continues to be exceedingly low. According to the February, 1996 Gallup poll conducted by Janssen-Ortho Inc., 89% of those surveyed chose alternatives to the Red Cross (volunteer) blood. Strategies directed at improving the safety of the blood system will fall short of this goal unless public knowledge and consumer participation are considered. Consumers need to participate in decision making for themselves with the physicians, as well as in the decision making process at the level of public policy. Consumer involvement would contribute to an overall plan of rebuilding public trust. Canadian health care consumers have been significantly affected by the blood tragedy of the 1980s. Public perception of blood safety has been characterized by misunderstanding and fear. The search for alternate methods of transfusion, such as directed donation, are based on a lack of trust of the current blood system. As introducing a program of directed blood donation would not increase safety or decrease the expense of blood transfusions, such a program should not be introduced in Ontario at this time.