New measures to improve the safety of blood transfusions, including photo ID cards and electronic tracking systems for patients and blood, have been recommended by the UK’s National Patient Safety Agency, or NPSA.
The NPSA has worked with Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) and the chief medical officer’s National Blood Transfusion Committee (NBTC) on a ‘right patient, right blood’ project to develop and evaluate new safety strategies.
Sir John Lilleyman, medical director at the NPSA, said that most errors made during blood transfusions are due to the failure of final identity checks carried out between patients and the blood to be transfused. The new strategies are designed to make transfusion safer, and benefit patients in other situations where misidentification can cause serious problems such as wrong medication, wrong laboratory test results and wrong X-ray reports.
The NPSA is advising all NHS organizations responsible for blood transfusions to use bar codes or other electronic identification and tracking systems for patients, samples and blood products; introduce photo-identification cards for patients who undergo regular blood transfusions; adopt an additional labeling system of matching the right blood to the patient; formally risk assess local blood transfusion procedures; and ensure final blood compatibility checks are made in the presence of patients.
Mike Murphy, secretary of the NBTC, said, we have made recommendations on the implementation of electronic bedside and laboratory systems to ensure that patients only receive the correct blood and that regulatory requirements for full traceability of blood are met.