Life-cycle information management and acquisition for blood products




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Ten of thousands patients die every year because of medical errors. Many more patients suffer permanent damage and have to be medicated for the rest of their life. In the context of a blood donation, blood production and blood transfusion process, a lack of consistent and complete trace and tracking of individual blood bags has been identified as a source of medical errors. This research aims to address this challenge to help organisations such as blood banks to track the donation, manufacture, distribution and in-use of blood products, to remove/minimise the potential medical errors. Although the major goal of this research study is to increase patient security, reduction of wastage is also part of the research aims because donated blood is a scarce resource. Nowadays, up to 20% of the blood bags are put to scrap without use and each of the blood bag costs 220 Euro to produce (i.e. from collection, production and storage until it is consumed/discarded). In Austria alone, 5.6 million Euros could be saved each year if the wastage can be removed. Besides the economic issue, donated human blood is a scarce resource and always gives a poor psychological response from the general public when preventable wastage occurs.

This research study approaches the challenges through a life-cycle point of view because it sees the goal can only be achieved through ‘real-time’ life-cycle information that governs the quality and life-span of such products. As a result, a new RF based semi-active transponder (13.56 MHz, ISO 15693 compatible HF interface) with integrated data storage and temperature sensor, which is able to sustain high g - forces have been developed to provide the ‘real-time’ temperature data and other related information support.

The developed life-cycle information system has been trialled at the University Clinic of Graz not only to test its effectiveness, but also used as a case study for this research study. Due to the resources constraints (e.g. time), the case study does not create sufficient data to establish any statistical significance to quantify the benefits of the proposed systems. However, all the involved persons including both the operational and professional staff at University Clinique of Graz, have agreed the proposed RFID transponders, together with its lifecycle management system provides better decision support to handle individual blood bag at any stage of its lifecycle. They believe the proposed system will improve patients’ safety and reduce the wastage of blood bags. During the trail, it happened that two blood bags ready for transfusion were detected to be below 0°C somehow during their life-cycle. A blood transfusion would have been 100% mortal to the patients. The detection of this fatal mistake did save at least the life of one human being and illustrated the importance of an objective, overarching and complete life-cycle system for blood products.

Although this research is focused on blood products for blood banks and medical environments, the benefits of the system approach and methodologies could also apply to other types of sensitive and fragile goods that require life-cycle information support.



life cycle management, RFID, blood products, cold chain



Research Institute