Trends in blood collection and transfusion

Sept. 1, 2010

Balancing rising costs by using IT solutions
The current focus for blood-transfusion labs is the ability and pressing need to strike a balance between the rising costs of blood products as well as other fixed necessities and the need to leverage IT solutions that can help achieve regulatory goals, increase efficiencies, and enhance patient safety. Measures to further tighten the parameters that would qualify candidates for transfusion of blood products in the first place — which would decrease overall cost and put less strain on inventory availability — are of primary concern to most labs since this is an area that impacts the entire transfusion cost cycle. Increasing patient safety when the transfusion of blood products is indicated through the use of tighter integration with the bedside, and advances in compatibility and screening testing are other ways that facilities are looking to in order to leverage IT solutions in ways that increase safety but also have an impact on the bottom line.

Lisa-Jean Clifford, CEO, Psyche Systems Corp.,
Maker of Systematic Blood Bank

Accidental needlesticks spur automatic activation solutions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 62% of all accidental needlesticks occur within moments of removing the needle from the vein. Efforts to improve safety while containing product costs are in the forefront of healthcare facilities' and manufacturers' goals. Safety products for the future are being designed so that the safety feature activates automatically upon removal from the patient's vein. Automatic activation eliminates the need for users to have to intentionally engage the safety mechanism before disposing of the needle in a sharps container. Protection from an accidental needlestick is then ensured, even if an unexpected event occurs.

Diane Ban, product manager, Preanalytics, Greiner Bio-One,
Maker of VISO PLUS needles with view window
and VISIO PLUS needles

Politics, politics, politics
The driving force behind trends in transfusion medicine is politics. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, and the Patient Protection and Affordability, or PPACA, are forcing healthcare institutions to improve safety, “show meaningful use of information technology,” and get better patient outcomes. Reimbursements will most likely be reduced to accommodate the 32 million uninsured that will be entering the system. Institutions will look to get more out of their information systems to improve blood-product utilization. What does this mean to the everyday transfusion service? You can bet on more meetings, more reports, and fewer personnel. The bright side is that change is opportunity. The federal government is putting a substantial amount of money toward IT investment. Hospitals are investing in software and IT infrastructure to take advantage of these new laws. This is the time to get that new computer system or automated instrument.

Gregory Francis, President, Korchek Technologies, Maker of CareChek Patient Identification System

Heel lancet for newborn-screening samples
Hospitalized infants, particularly those cared for in the neonatal intensive care units; require frequent blood sampling to monitor their clinical status. Capillary blood draws (heel sticks) provide a reliable minimally invasive technique for obtaining blood samples. Recollections due to hemolyzed samples are costly and painful to the infant. Hemolysis may be caused by excessive manipulation or “squeezing” of the foot during the blood-collection process. It is important to use a heel lancet with a quality blade that is fast, in order to create an incision that generates good blood flow and to avoid recollections. Faster blade speed produces a virtually instantaneous incision, meaning less pain for the baby. A high-precision automated surgical blade produces an accurate, clean-edged incision through the capillary bed and achieves a controlled depth of incision medically acceptable for preterm and term babies.

Kristina Malloy, product manager, Accessories,
Hawaii Medical Product Family, Natus Medical,
Maker of NeatNick heel lancet

Glass matters
Historically, glass has been the preferred material for capillary tubes used to collect blood-gas samples. There is, however, potential risk of injury and/or infection due to accidental breakage of glass capillary tubes. In addition, the flexible nature of some non-glass devices can result in aerosol formation and specimen loss if the tube should be bent or bumped during collection, transport, or testing. Now, we have Mylar-wrapped glass capillary tubes that have been treated with calcium-balanced lithium heparin to prevent the sample from clotting. The Mylar minimizes risks associated with broken glass capillaries by containing both the glass and the sample in the event of accidental breakage.

David Hatch, director, Sales and Marketing Operations,

RNA Medical, Maker of Safe-Wrap Blood Collection Tubes

Improving platelet quality and patient safety
Recent changes in AABB Interim Standard, will effectively eliminate the use of less efficacious testing methods such as dipsticks, glucose meters, and pH meters to test whole-blood-derived platelets for bacteria. The advent of technologies — such as blood systems that lower blood component costs and improve patient safety — provides both blood centers and hospitals with a solution to meet this upcoming change. Through whole-blood collections, these types of systems allow blood-collection facilities to increase platelet availability, while also facilitating efficient testing of the pool with a culture-based bacteria-detection system that meets the revised standard. The result is a clinical therapeutic dose equivalent to apheresis platelets but typically at a lower cost to produce. Hospitals benefit as well, since they are receiving a therapeutic dose of platelets already pooled and tested.

Robert Haime, Senior Director-Portfolio Management,
Pall Medical, Provider of Acrodose Systems

Enhancing quality and ensuring FDA compliance
The ability to track all materials within the blood industry, from donor collection to transfusion to current status, is a necessity. Traceability is an essential tool in preventing post-transfusion infections. Many quality-management software providers offer a material-returns function that aids in this process by ensuring that all returns are tracked and allows the organization to identify and track different types of returns, the reason for the return, as well as the material and quantity that needs to be returned. Additionally, since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has significantly increased its oversight over blood and transfusion centers, it has become more important than ever to maintain compliance to applicable regulations. Having an FDA-compliance software system in place that can adapt to the changing regulatory environment, and that can be flexible enough to match evolving business processes, is a key aspect in the blood-services industry and in enhancing blood-transfusion safety.

Tim Lozier, Strategic Development Manager, EtQ,
Provider of Quality and FDA Compliance Management
Software Solutions