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Curr Opin Hematol. 2004 Sep;11(5):334-8.

Barcode identification for transfusion safety.

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  • 1National Blood Service, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.



Errors related to blood transfusion in hospitals may produce catastrophic consequences. This review addresses potential solutions to prevent patient misidentification including the use of new technology, such as barcoding.


A small number of studies using new technology for the transfusion process in hospitals have shown promising results in preventing errors. The studies demonstrated improved transfusion safety and staff preference for new technology such as bedside handheld scanners to carry out pretransfusion bedside checking. They also highlighted the need for considerable efforts in the training of staff in the new procedures before their successful implementation.


Improvements in hospital transfusion safety are a top priority for transfusion medicine, and will depend on a combined approach including a better understanding of the causes of errors, a reduction in the complexity of routine procedures taking advantage of new technology, improved staff training, and regular monitoring of practice. The use of new technology to improve the safety of transfusion is very promising. Further development of the systems is needed to enable staff to carry out bedside transfusion procedures quickly and accurately, and to increase their functionality to justify the cost of their wider implementation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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