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“Smart” refrigerator system improves blood management

A study, based on findings from a UK hospital, has suggested that technology for processing blood bank orders can dramatically cut the blood preparation and delivery process.

The report was released in this month’s American Association of Blood Banks Journal of Transfusion, using data obtained from the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, UK,

The data showed that use of the system, called BloodTrack® OnDemand, reduced the time to access blood in the operating room (OR) from 24 minutes to 59 seconds, while the time required for blood bank and clinical staff to manage the blood preparation and delivery process was cut from 117 to 34 minutes a day.

At the same time, the number of blood units issued from the blood bank was reduced by 52%. The report says that BloodTrack “demonstrates the benefits in reducing the time to make blood available for surgical patients and improves efficiency of the hospital transfusion process”.

The study describes remote allocation, a new way of providing blood to patients. This process allows unallocated (non-crossmatched) blood to be stored in automated “smart” refrigerators in patient care areas such as the OR. When a blood unit is required, it can be electronically assigned by the refrigerator and labelled for a specific patient without involving the blood bank.

Blood bank staff benefit from decreased workload through fewer blood requests, fewer returned units, increased inventory visibility, and increased job satisfaction by distributing the workload throughout the day. Clinical staff benefit from quicker access to blood at the point of care, reduced manual paperwork, increased confidence in giving the correct blood, and reduced time spent managing the overall blood delivery process.

Dr Michael Murphy, Professor of Blood Transfusion Medicine at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust, said the system, manufactured by Canadian firm Neoteric Technology Ltd, “is safer, less time consuming and we know that staff prefer it.”

“In combination with the other components of the BloodTrack suite, we can provide a complete closed loop system that ensures simpler, safer blood transfusions for millions of patients worldwide,” said Geof Auchinleck, President of Neoteric.

Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust