Blood transfusions ‘safer than ever’ thanks to new technology

The technology will ensure greater safety around blood transfusions.
The technology will ensure greater safety around blood transfusions.

Blood transfusions at Lincolnshire’s hospitals are among ‘the safest in the country’ thanks to an £800,000 investment in state-of-the-art technology.

The funding has been invested in an electronic barcode blood tracking system which has been rolled out to hospitals within the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, including Louth, Boston, Lincoln, and Grantham.

The technology will ensure greater safety around blood transfusions.

The technology will ensure greater safety around blood transfusions.

The latest upgrade incorporates more advanced recording of all blood products given to patients and used correctly it ensures the right blood is always given to the right patient.

Blood Transfusion Practitioner Carol Richardson said: “We are delighted that Blood360 has now gone live in our hospitals.

“Blood transfusions can be a life-saving treatment but the process does involve some risks. Our new blood tracking system is designed to ensure that the right blood product always goes to the right patient when used correctly.

“When a patient needs a transfusion, the blood bank team place allocated blood bags into one of the specialist fridges around the hospitals which are controlled by computers. The patient’s blood bag can only be removed by specially trained staff who use finger print technology to access blood products.

“For increased safety, the upgraded system introduces the use of iPods to scan the blood bag at the patient’s bedside and also the patient’s barcoded wristband. The information is cross checked to ensure a positive patient ID match. This process significantly reduces the risk of the patient getting the wrong bag of blood and also ensures the blood is safe to transfuse.”

Although rare, human error can lead to mistakes. However, the new electronic system will alert staff if the information doesn’t match, if the blood has been out of the fridge for too long, or if it has been kept at the wrong temperature - and the staff member will then stop the transfusion from taking place.

Blood Transfusion Practitioner Ant Jackson said: “We are one of the first trusts in the country to use iPods to scan blood at a patient’s bedside. Many hospitals use a system for collecting blood from the fridge, but we have gone one stage further to enable us to make transfusion at the bedside as safe as we can make it.

“So far the feedback from staff has been brilliant. It is so much easier than the previous system and they can do it all from the same iPods that they use to record observations. So if you see a member of staff using an iPod on the ward, it’s not that they are texting, but instead they may be checking blood or updating patient records.”

• Last year, more than 15,700 transfusions took place across the Trust.