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RFID Tracks Blood at Australia's Liverpool Hospital

NSW Health Pathology, which operates the hospital's blood lab, is using the technology to determine how long blood products remain outside of refrigeration, and to ensure that no incorrect matches are made and no spoiled products are used.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 23, 2016

NSW Health Pathology, an Australian public pathology organization that operates five clinical and scientific networks, is using radio frequency identification technology at a blood bank it runs at Liverpool Hospital, near Sydney, to track blood products from the time they leave storage refrigerators until when they are returned to storage or used for a patient.

The RFID system, consisting of SpaceCode's SmartFridge, tags and software, was provided by Australian technology distributor Wishmed.

SpaceCode's SmartFridge has a built-in RFID reader for identifying which bags of blood have been removed or returned, as well as when and by whom.
Liverpool Hospital has 23 surgical theatres and a capacity for 877 beds. NSW Health Pathology operates a blood bank laboratory within the hospital, in which blood and related products, such as plasma and coagulants, are stored at controlled temperatures prior to their use on patients.

The solution includes a locking SpaceCode SmartFridge, installed in the hospital's surgical suite, to identify RFID-tagged blood products stored within it. The system not only helps to ensure that each unit of blood is given to the correct patient, but also that it is not used after an extended time out of refrigeration.

Tony Greenfield
For each surgical procedure in which a patient requires transfusion, staff members pick up units of blood from the NSW Health Pathology blood bank lab and take them to the operating department's SmartFridge, where they are stored until needed. When required, the blood is removed from storage and taken to the patient for transfusion. If the blood products are not used, they are returned to the blood refrigerator. The following day, unused blood is picked up and taken back to the main blood bank laboratory.

Blood needs to be stored at 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and must never exceed 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) if it is to be considered safe for use.

"We need to be assured that the returned blood is safe to use, and require cold chain records to confirm that it has been appropriately stored," says Tony Greenfield, principal hospital scientist at the NSW Health Pathology's Liverpool Blood Bank Laboratory.

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