RFID to be used in blood-tracking trial

Pilot scheme will use technologies including RFID to help trace blood and improve patient safety in the transfusion process

A new tracking system using technologies including RFID is being developed to make it easier to trace blood and cut down on mistakes such as giving patients the wrong type of blood — an error that can have potentially fatal consequences.

NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) is looking to work with one or more trusts in England to pilot a national IT specification for blood tracking.

The pilot — due to commence by March 2007 — will test and develop the IT specification for blood tracking, with money available for the trusts to help fund technology, manage the work and evaluate the pilot.

As the specification was developed in a large teaching hospital, CfH wants to pilot it in a smaller, non-teaching hospital.

CfH said the IT specification, which can be used with bar coding and radio frequency identification technologies, builds on the experience of users of the different systems currently available and addresses the patient-safety risks identified in the transfusion process.

The specification will inform the work of NHS CfH and commercial companies that produce hardware and software.

Between 1996 and 2004, five patients died as a result of being given incompatible blood and this type of error contributed to the deaths of a further nine patients.

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