An innovative barcoding system to improve the safety of patients requiring blood transfusions is to be piloted by nurses on the South coast.
Trials of the electronic blood tracking system – which is designed to minimise the risk of human error – will begin in the oncology department at Southampton University Hospitals Trust over the next two months.
Nurses will use a handheld computer to scan a barcode on a patient’s hospital wristband, and then print out a form to be taken to the dispensing fridge.
Once the form is scanned at the fridge, only the appropriate section will open to ensure the correct blood is collected.
The technology, originally developed at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust, then prompts the nurse to scan the bag of blood – and their own identifying barcode – before the transfusion can begin.
The system uses information from the patient’s wristband taken directly from admission data, removing the need for handwritten forms and significantly reducing the likelihood of a patient being given the wrong blood.
It is part of a package of measures being introduced at the trust to improve patient safety, including an e-prescribing project and new pharmacy dispensing system.
The trust’s senior sister in cancer care Helen Morling said: “Although you cannot eliminate the risk of human error 100%, this system should significantly decrease the likelihood of any mistakes being made, as it prompts you to check things every step of the way.”
“Although it is very rare to give a blood transfusion to the wrong patient, this will help to reduce that risk even further,” she added.