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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 00:21 GMT
Blood op patients to get ID cards
Image of blood for transfusion
About 1m people are given blood transfusions each year
Patients needing regular blood transfusions will be issued with ID cards in a shake-up of the system to improve safety, NHS advisers say.

The National Patient Safety Agency also recommended hospitals introduce an electronic tracking system to ensure patients get the correct blood type.

Since 1996, at least 14 patients have died and 54 left seriously ill after receiving the wrong blood.

Final identity and blood type checks were not carried out in many cases.

About 1m people are given blood transfusions each year - many as a one-off procedure after road accidents or giving birth.

The ID cards are not targeted at them, but rather people with bleeding or clotting disorders such as thrombosis who require regular transfusions.

Weaknesses

Professor Sir John Lilleyman, medical director at the NPSA, said: "Every year, many blood transfusions are carried out safely and correctly, but occasionally things do go wrong.

"Our aim is to make transfusion safer, and also potentially benefit patients in other situations where misidentification occasionally causes serious problems such as wrong medication, wrong laboratory test results and wrong X-ray reports."

The tracking system would work by using a system of bar codes for patients, samples and blood products.

Hospitals have been told to carry out an assessment of their procedures to identify any weaknesses.

Mike Murphy, secretary of the government's National Blood Transfusion Committee, said he "strongly supported" the recommendations as they would "improve the safety of patients receiving blood transfusions".

Dr Howard Stoate, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Patient Safety, said: "The introduction of ID cards for regular patients and electronic tracking systems for patients and blood are excellent steps in ensuring the safety of patients remains paramount."

Hospitals have been given until May to introduce the new measures and although they are not duty bound to follow the advice they will be judged on whether they are acting on it by the Healthcare Commission.




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