Transfusion Clinical Stream

transfusionThe NSW Health Pathology Transfusion Clinical Stream has been developing and analysing blood wastage reports with subsequent reductions in red cell wastage.

The latest data shows many of our smaller non-metropolitan blood banks are now seeing expiry rates as low as 10 per cent, compared to 80 per cent at some sites two to three years ago. With each unit of red cells worth about $370, the work is delivering savings for the NSW Health system.

NSW Health Pathology blood banks issue 160,000 units of red cells per year to hospitals. Red cells are stored in laboratory fridges but are fit for transfusion for only 42 days and then destroyed if they’re not used. 

Since 2014, our Transfusion Clinical Stream has worked to obtain more reliable and comprehensive data on red cell expiry in our non-metropolitan laboratories to help reduce expiry rates.

Our large metropolitan blood banks were achieving as little as 1 per cent expiry. However, smaller blood banks in more remote areas without easy access to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service were finding it harder to turn over their supplies. 

Chair of our Transfusion Clinical Stream, Associate Professor Mark Dean, said new strategies were introduced when it became clear that blood bank size and location influenced expiry.

“We educated staff to use older stocks first, reviewed the performance of our blood banks and introduced a hub-and-spoke supply model that allowed smaller centres to transfer unused units to larger centres where they were more likely to be used,” Professor Dean said.

The project has achieved outstanding results, with some remote sites recording no wastage at all and no expiry rates greater than 25 per cent.

“The results indicate a much more efficient use of donated blood products and our work has been well received by the Ministry for Health,” he said.

The Stream will now work to address issues in some of our blood banks that have specific challenges in relation to their location.

“We’ll then focus on extending our learnings to other blood products, such as platelets,” Professor Dean added.

For more information contact Professor Mark Dean 
ph. 02 4320 3894