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Bid to improve blood transfusion safety

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Blood transfusion recipients are being urged to ask nurses: “Do you know who I am?” as part of a new patient awareness campaign.

The patient identification check campaign has been launched by the NHS Blood and Transplant service (NHSBT) to cut out the potential for error during the transfusion process.

A back-to-basics approach is being implemented among professionals and patients, where blood recipients are being encouraged to speak up to health professionals and advise them to check names, dates of birth and blood test samples.

Although the blood supply in the UK is one of the safest in the world, the NHSBT wants to make sure errors are kept to the absolute minimum, with checks on identification wrist bands an absolute must for professionals in the field.

Calling for more patient involvement and participation, the service’s Rebecca 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.”

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Readers' comments (2)


  • The Unit I work on has on average 25 blood transfusions a week through its doors.
    We use an electronic checking system where we scan bar codes on patients wristbands and on the bags of blood. It works quite well on the whole with very little room for error.

    We also use infusion pumps which means that the blood goes through according to regime.

    Staff are very happy with the system.

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  • Hi,

    Electronic checking systems are very useful in the transfusion setting however it is dangerous to assume that an error cannot occur when using these systems. Safe transfusion practice requires positive patient identificaton which means asking the patient to state and spell their full name (when feasible). Once this step has been completed the nurse can use the electronic cheking device however the use of the checking device should not excule the step of asking the patient their name and checking against the ID band and blood component. The use of an electronic checking system is an extra check. This step must also occur when cellecting the pre transfusion specimen.

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