Solutions providers welcome campaign to reduce blood transfusion blunders

NHS Blood and Transplant announces awareness campaign to ensure patients receive the right blood

The NHS Blood and Transplant campaign aims to ensure the right blood gets to the right patient

Healthcare suppliers are welcoming the launch of a new campaign that aims to reduce the number of blood transfusion blunders.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has unveiled its Do You Know Who I Am? awareness campaign, which encourages recipients of blood to challenge staff when they receive transfusions.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of errors that occur when patient identification checks are carried out. It follows the publication of The Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) Report of 2012, which showed that, in 2011, there were 247 incidents where the wrong blood component was transfused to patients.

These errors are equivalent to 0.008% of the three million transfusions that take place every year and, while none of the cases resulted in death, two caused serious illness to patients.

The patient identification check continues to be a critical point in the transfusion process where there is the potential for error

Rebecca Gerrard, head of ‘better blood transfusion’ at NHSBT, explained: “The patient identification check continues to be a critical point in the transfusion process where there is the potential for error. This new campaign is designed to raise awareness of the importance of positive patient identification in the blood transfusion process with both healthcare professionals and patients.

“This year we are promoting a back-to-basics approach and patient involvement in that is crucial. Patients are being encouraged to ask healthcare professionals to ask 'Do you know who I am?'. All outpatients should be asked to state their full name and date of birth before blood tests and samples are taken. All inpatients should have a correct identification band on their wrist and also be asked to state their full name and date of birth by staff who are caring for them.”

She added: “We have hardworking and professional healthcare staff involved in blood transfusion, from donation right through to transfusion. However, we accept that none of us are infallible - we are all capable of making mistakes and incorrect patient identification remains the biggest reason for mistakes to happen. NHSBT wants to make sure these incidents occur less and less.”

The emphasis for the campaign is on patient involvement and participation. Posters and factsheets ask patients the crucial question - do they know who you are? Patients will be encouraged to question healthcare staff involved in their transfusion to ensure that simple errors do not lead to the wrong blood being administered.

We accept that none of us are infallible - we are all capable of making mistakes and incorrect patient identification remains the biggest reason for mistakes to happen. NHSBT wants to make sure these incidents occur less and less

The problem is included on the Department of Health’s list of ‘never events’, incidents that are eminently avoidable and should never happen.

Gerrard said: “We want to ensure that these events never happen. Despite our safety record, we feel that even one mistake that affects a patient is one too many. So we're asking patients to help staff by ensuring they know who you are, so identification mistakes leading to incorrect transfusions never happen."

The initiative is being welcomed by MedTech suppliers, who provide a wealth of systems to help hospitals and other healthcare organisations track, trace and verify blood stocks.

MSoft eSolutions’s Bloodhound software controls access to and from all fridges, providing positive identification of users and patients and indepth auditing of all blood products across each and every stage of the transfusion process.

Speaking to BBH about the campaign, Matt McAlister, the company’s managing director, said: “Any initiative that raises awareness of the importance of getting the right blood into the right patient is a good one.

“Hospitals are asking for technology that will provide them with the sophisticated, efficient and, most importantly, secure and safe systems they require. We are helping trusts to enhance patient safety which, in turn, will help to further reduce the number of incidents in which patients receive the wrong blood.”

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