Every year, 12.6 million units of blood are donated in the United States, according to the Blood Centers of the Pacific. Across the U.S., donor centers and mobile units collect blood from about 8 million donors a year.
To increase safety, the FDA updated its Blood Labeling Industry Guidance Standard to require barcodes on all blood and blood component containers. The barcodes must include the unique facility identifier, donor number, donor ABO/Rh, and USFDA product code.
The standards are in place, but when the mobile blood collection units hit the road, are they properly equipped to comply?
Just sending out the mobile unit with a supply of barcoded collection bags isn’t enough to truly protect the donated blood, and, ultimately, the patients who receive the transfusions. For example, our Symbology team worked with the Puget Sound Blood Center (PSBC) in Seattle, which collects 300,000 units of blood per year via its 11 donor centers and 19 mobile vans. With mobile blood collection, which accounts for about nine percent of the blood donations, the technician wrote down the ten-digit code from the collection bag label on the donor form. However, the handwriting was sometimes illegible. Every month, about 32 units had to go through lab testing to properly verify the blood. The extra step took additional staff time and delayed the processing.
The Symbology Enterprises solution featured a Barcode Duplicator system that worked wirelessly—with or without a network connection. The Zebra LS2208 handheld barcode scanner is connected directly to a Zebra LP2824 Plus, a compact barcode printer. Once the barcode label on the blood collection bag is scanned, the information feeds directly to the barcode printer. The label is printed and the technician applies it to the form, eliminating the need to hand write the code. There’s no need for a computer, because the LP2824 Plus has built-in programmability to store and recall forms. This feature was particularly important because mobile units often don’t have a network connection.
The Symbology Barcode Duplicator solution provided an efficient and accurate alternative to a manual system that had too much room for error. “The Zebra barcode scanner and printer are easy to use. The only instruction we needed, fit on a tiny label, which we applied to the side of the printer,” explains Jessica Eve, PSBC’s Quality Resources Supervisor.
We created a video to provide more details about the PSBC experience. Watch it Here!
With the ongoing blood shortage around the country, our blood centers need to concentrate their efforts on collection, not deciphering codes. If you’re interested in learning more about Symbology’s barcode duplicator solution, contact us at 1-888-484-4424!