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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

The blood bags are then packed in a cooling container for transportation either to another blood center or to a particular patient. A battery-powered Biolog-ID temperature data logger, measuring 72 millimeters by 60 millimeters by 18 millimeters (2.8 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.7 inch), is placed inside the container, while an HF RFID tag on the container identifies it. Once the blood bags are packed, an employee uses a handheld Biolog-ID reader to link the bags with the container, and utilizes a wireless modem plugged into a computer to download the temperature reading from the sensor. When the boxes are received at the hospital, a worker can employ a Biolog-ID handheld unit to read their tags in order to confirm what has been received, and use a wireless modem to view the blood's temperature history.

When the patient is ready to receive the blood, a staff member removes the designated bag from the hospital's RFID-enabled Biolog-ID refrigerator and accesses the cloud-based BiologSCS software to check the bag's temperature history readings, confirm that it is not set to expire, and make sure it is the correct blood type for that patient. This procedure provides redundancy, ensuring that no errors are made prior to a transfusion. The blood is then delivered to the patient's bedside.

CETS' Mónica Nuñez Morales
Although nurses are not equipped with handheld readers, Morel says, they may be in the future, so that a nurse could read the RFID tags embedded in her own staff badge and her patient's wristband, as well the blood tag, to enhance transfusion safety and create a record of when the blood was administered, to what patient and by what employee.

For blood centers, the greatest savings comes from reduced labor costs, while for both hospitals and the blood centers, another key benefit is improved product safety, resulting from being able to better track a blood product's temperature and expiration status. In addition, hospital workers can use the system to determine which products are located at which SSAVER site, thereby enabling them to order a blood product they require without having to make phone calls to ascertain what is available.

Veracruz CETS health officer Mónica Nuñez Morales says the technology has increased the visibility and accuracy of data related to each unit's temperature, location and expiration dates. That, she adds, has reduced the waste of product that might otherwise have been discarded due to its having expired, its temperature having exceeded a specified threshold (as indicated by the temperature data retrieved from the sensors), or the unit simply not having been found when needed.

In the long term, Nuñez Morales reports, SSAVER will continue to track blood products from the point at which they are removed from quarantine, to their eventual arrival at a patient's bedside. As such, she says, the agency will strive to implement the RFID system at other SSAVER hospitals and blood-collection sites throughout the State of Veracruz.

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