Mexican State Agency Reduces Donated Blood Wastage With RFID

Veracruz's health department has improved the visibility of the bags of blood products it sends to hospitals, by tracking their temperatures, locations and details, such as expiration dates.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 01, 2014

A radio frequency identification system deployed in Mexico's State of Veracruz has helped blood banks reduce the quantity of blood that is lost or wasted due to expiration, saving approximately 7 million pesos ($515,000) annually. The solution, which has been up and running since September 2013, enables the state's blood bank system to manage the locations of its blood bags as they are stored, transported and received at a given site, such as a blood center or hospital, and to track the temperature conditions for those bags. The system, provided by French company Biolog-ID, is being used at eight sites across eastern Mexico by the state's health department, Secretaria de Salud del Estado de Veracruz (SSAVER). The system employs passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags and wireless temperature sensors.

The state collects blood from donors at a central blood center in the city of Veracruz, as well as at satellite centers, many located in hospitals. That blood is then separated into plasma, platelets and red cell products, which are placed into bags and quarantined during testing for pathogens. Once released from quarantine, the blood products are transported to hospitals as needed by specific patients. Not surprisingly, the products must be closely tracked throughout the entire process. Temperature control of the blood during its approximately 42-day shelf life ensures that the product remains safe. Finally, it is critical that blood types be properly identified, and that blood of a particular type is never administered to the wrong patient.

At the state blood transfusion center's cold storage room, five blood storage racks have been fitted with RFID readers and antennas.
The process of ensuring blood inventory accuracy has required that daily manual inventory counts be conducted within the blood centers' storage rooms, in which temperatures are kept at 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit). In fact, staff members must perform a full inventory of blood in storage following each eight-hour shift.

Biolog-ID developed its RFID-based blood-management system initially for the government in France, where it had been tested by the French Blood Institution—Etablissement Français du Sang (EFS). For the past two years, the Laboratoire Français du Fractionnement et des Biotechnologies (LFB) and Europlasma have been using Biolog-ID's system to track bags of blood plasma in France and Eastern Europe.

In the meantime, in July 2013, Biolog-ID began working with SSAVER in Mexico to establish the system in that country. After some preliminary testing was carried out, the system was fully installed at eight locations (SSAVER's chief blood center, six hospitals with their own blood centers, and a seventh hospital that receives blood from other sites), according to Dorian Morel, Biolog-ID's project manager and product specialist. At the state's primary blood center—the Centro Estatal de Transfusion Sanguinea (CETS)—Biolog-ID worked with Dometic, which manufactured the refrigerators used by SSAVER, to incorporate RFID readers and antennas into five storage racks already in use within the facility's refrigerated storage room. Biolog-ID also added an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) transmitter to each rack's temperature sensor. Combined, the five storage racks are capable of accommodating 1,050 bags of blood at any given time. .

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