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Mexican State Agency Reduces Donated Blood Wastage With RFID

Veracruz's health department has improved the visibility of the bags of blood products it sends to hospitals, by tracking their temperatures, locations and details, such as expiration dates.
By Claire Swedberg

Biolog-ID added RFID readers to Dometic refrigerators that were already in operation at six other hospital blood centers, and at SSAVER's Hospital Regional de Alta Especialidad de Veracruz, which receives blood products to administer to patients, but does not accept blood donations. Biolog-ID also added a UHF radio to each refrigerator's built-in temperature sensor, so that the blood centers could use a wireless modem to collect temperature readings and upload that information to Biolog-ID's cloud-based BiologSCS software.

When blood is drawn from a donor, it is placed into a bag and assigned a serial number that is paired with data about that donor, as well as the date and location. A bar-coded label, with the donation's ID number printed on it, is attached to that bag as the blood is drawn. It can then be processed at the lab, and be stored in quarantine until the testing results arrive after several hours, or a day or more. Although SSAVER could eventually apply RFID tags at the time of donation, Morel says, the bar-code technology is sufficient for tracking the product prior to quarantine release.

Once the blood is released from quarantine, a staff member prints a passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 RFID label compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, and containing 2 kilobytes of memory, and applies it to the bag. Biolog-ID declines to name the tag provider. At the time of printing, data is written to the tag, and is also stored in Biolog-ID's cloud-based BiologSCS software, including the blood type and the donation serial number linked in SSAVER's own software to the donor's identity and blood-test results.

Because each donation site and hospital has its own management software, the Biolog-ID system writes the data on the tag in order to ensure that reading it will provide the necessary information to anyone at a location other than where the blood was first tagged. Biolog-ID's cloud-based software also receives the data and forwards the read event, along with information written to the tag, to SSAVER's software at that site.

The RFID-tagged blood is then moved to a refrigerated storage room, where it is placed in one of the storage racks, each of which has multiple drawers, with up to 15 compartments in each drawer. Each space has a built-in antenna wired to a Biolog-ID HF reader. The storage unit's reader captures the ID number and other data encoded to the blood bag's RFID tag, which is installed underneath the bag's printed label, thereby linking that bag to that location within the storage unit.

When an order for a specific blood bag is received, staff members can use the Biolog-ID software to pinpoint that bag's exact location—a process that is more efficient than the manual method of reading text printed on the bag's label, or scanning its bar-coded ID number.

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