Technology | October 17, 2007

New Technology Protects Patients from Blood Transfusion Errors During Surgery

Cardinal Health launched a new technology to protect patients from blood transfusion errors in operating rooms, emergency departments and other critical care areas, where transfusions need to occur rapidly.
With the new Rapid Infusion feature, the CareFusion Transfusion Verification application can now accommodate transfusion workflow in any critical care environment. The maker says Rapid Infusion provides a systematic method of positive patient identification for matching blood components and efficient documentation, even during emergency situations.
While the CareFusion Transfusion Verification application has been available for three years, it is traditionally used in the patient room environment and other nonemergency situations because of the time required for documentation. However, more than 60 percent of all blood products in hospitals are transfused in an “emergency” environment, where extra safety measures to verify the match between patient and blood tag are not currently viable because they could lead to delays in transfusions. The amount of blood products transfused and the critical nature of events require a solution that accommodates workflow, while keeping patient safety a priority.
“Patient safety is of utmost importance at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital,” said Kristi Custard, assistant nurse manager of cardiovascular recovery who participated in a pilot program for the new technology. “We always seek new and innovative methods and protocols to provide safe, efficient care to all patients, especially the critically ill. The CareFusion Transfusion Verification Rapid Infusion feature provides St. Luke’s with the ability to help ensure we are transfusing the right blood to the right patient, even in the most critical environments.”
Using the wrong blood in a transfusion is considered a “never event” by the National Quality Forum (NQF). According to the NQF, “never events” are errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a healthcare facility.
In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will no longer pay for the additional cost to treat certain preventable errors in hospitals, including blood transfusion errors. Beginning in October 2008, hospitals will have to absorb any costs associated with treating blood transfusion errors for any Medicare or Medicaid patients.
Cardinal Health’s design provides a more flexible workflow in the operating room and emergency situations. CareFusion Transfusion Verification with Rapid Infusion can be configured as the only workflow or as an optional workflow. Documentation is optional and visual alerts such as colors and red borders assist in expediting a less restrictive workflow.