Dangerous dishonesty

Lab technician’s failure to follow procedures and attempts to thwart investigation broke high standard of trust needed in managing blood supply
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 06/20/2018

An Alberta arbitrator has upheld the dismissal of a Canadian Blood Services (CBS) technician for her disregard of protocols and attempts to cover it up, finding the worker couldn’t be trusted to maintain the high standards required for managing the blood supply.

The worker was hired by CBS, the national blood collection and processing organization, in October 2003 to be a laboratory attendant and team lead. The position included assignments of end labelling, which is the final processing step before units of blood are released back into inventory for transportation to hospitals.

End labelling of units of red blood cells, once they’ve been separated from other components in blood, is set out in a standard operating procedure document that is distributed to all staff, who are trained on it and expected to know it. The procedure includes the stipulation that a unit of red blood cells cannot be kept out of refrigerated storage for more than 30 minutes — after that time, there is a risk of bacterial contamination. As a result, laboratory attendants were only supposed to retrieve the number of units they could label within 30 minutes. This was also specified in standard operating procedures.