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BloodCenter of Wisconsin to Study RFID's Effect on Blood
The testing will be part of an ongoing initiative to develop RFID standards for labeling and tracking the blood supply chain, from donor to patient.
Sep 10, 2007—BloodCenter of Wisconsin, in cooperation with several business and technology partners, will begin testing this month to determine whether RFID has any harmful effects on blood products. The testing will be part of an ongoing initiative to develop RFID standards for labeling and tracking blood in the global supply chain, from donor to patient.
The initiative will seek to develop a standard for RFID tag size and data layout, which it will present next month to the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) for review. The ISBT is a scientific society that helps guide research, processes and standards for blood transfusion and transfusion medicine around the world.
More than a year ago, BloodCenter of Wisconsin initiated a study intended to assess whether RFID technology could be employed to augment the ISBT 128 bar-code-based system used worldwide, and to gain additional safety and operational efficiencies and effectiveness. Partners in the project included Carter BloodCare, Mississippi Blood Services, eSunTech, Mediware Information Systems, Oracle, Psion Teklogix, SysLogic, Tagsys and the University of Wisconsin—Madison's RFID Lab. This study indicated that potential gains from RFID could not only support increased safety, but result in an ROI as well. Based on this assessment, the team has begun to move forward with building a prototype application for blood banks.
Participants in the initiative recently met with members of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss RFID's use in the blood supply chain. The FDA requested that the group study whether the technology's RF signals might affect blood. "The FDA asked us to conduct trials to ensure the blood products wouldn't be harmed or adversely affected," says Lynne Briggs, director of IS applications at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. "Next week, we're kicking off our first trial with [the] Applied Research team here at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. This first trial will be a limit test, which involves hitting the blood products with a high level of RF energy continuously, and then assessing how the blood is affected molecularly."
Briggs says the team is expected to conduct tests for approximately two weeks, after which it will take another two weeks to receive and assess the results. "Based upon other manufacturing processes used in blood, including irradiation, we believe we won't see any adverse impact," she says, "but we, along with the FDA, want to ensure this is the case."
In October, Briggs says, the group will present its recommendation regarding tag size and data layout to the ISBT's RFID Working Party. The group will recommend a 2-kilobit aluminum-antenna passive HF tag, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, as the most appropriate tag for use in labeling blood products. "We chose aluminum rather than silver or copper," she states. "Our rationale is because when we are done with a blood product, it gets incinerated, and aluminum is a little more environmentally friendly than copper or silver."
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