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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

Normally, blood removed for less than 30 minutes is considered safe, while blood that has remained out of a refrigerator for more than that amount of time is deemed unsafe and must be discarded. Prior to the RFID deployment, a sign-in and sign-out book attached to each refrigerator was used to track the products and monitor how long they remained outside controlled conditions.

"Unfortunately, this wasn't always reliable," Greenfield says, noting that the records were often incomplete. When this occurred, he adds, the blood needed to be discarded as a safety measure.

SpaceCode Vortex VT100 passive low-frequency (LF) RFID tags are attached to bags of blood sent to the surgical suite.
With the RFID technology, which the NSW Health Pathology lab has been using since December 2013, approximately 1,000 products are tagged annually.

SpaceCode Vortex VT100 passive low-frequency (LF) RFID tags are printed and applied to blood being sent to the surgical suite. Most of the blood bank's inventory is not delivered to the operating rooms, and the blood bank determined that it would need to tag only those bags being used on surgical patients. By tagging only products destined for the operating room, the laboratory saves labor time and overall tag cost.

Each employee is assigned an RFID staff access card with a unique ID number encoded on the card's embedded RFID chip. That ID is linked to that individual's identity in the SpaceCode Smart Tracker software. When a worker completes training, Greenfield activates that individual's card, which grants him or her access to use the RFID-based system.

When a surgery patient needs blood, the hospital contacts the blood bank, which selects blood matching that patient's blood type. In addition, it electronically cross-matches the blood in the pathology lab's information system (Cerner's Pathnet system).

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