A project team from Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) helped create a pioneering new system to ensure blood products and their corresponding testing vials and Donor History Cards (DHCs) are always tracked from the point of donation completion to the Blood Center’s laboratory. The Chain of Custody system, implemented in December 2014, brings a powerful new tool to our industry.
“The ability to track every product, DHC and testing sample from the point of completion of donation all the way to the lab for final processing is a huge step forward for our quality manufacturing process,” said Jeannine McCullough, Chief Quality Officer. “By implementing this system, we don’t have to wait to see what shows up in a delivery from our Donor Centers. We know exactly which coolers will be delivered and what’s inside every cooler.”
In 2014, donors gave more than 200,000 whole blood, platelet and plasma donations to MVRBC. Every donation, testing vial and DHC must be delivered from the point of donation to the appropriate lab. With more than 200,000 donations, staff and volunteers were accountable for more than 600,000 items being delivered to the right location, often more than 100 miles away from the point of donation.
“This introduces the opportunity to make mistakes,” said McCullough. “And if even one element of the donation is left behind or misplaced, it could mean the loss of that entire donation.” The new system reduces that risk substantially.
By creating a real-time record of when donations are packed into coolers at the point of donation and when, and by whom, the coolers are transported to the lab, the system provides, in McCullough’s words, “FedEx tracking for blood donations.”
The technology was developed by a project team from MVRBC working in conjunction with programmers from BloodHub, a health care technology consultant. The team started in October 2012 and completed full implementation at MVRBC Donor Centers in December 2014, following 18 months of pilot implementation, testing and troubleshooting. In 2015, the technology is being piloted and implemented at mobile blood drives.
“Previously, we were unable to identify discrepancies between collection numbers and what products arrived for testing until paperwork arrived from the blood drive, usually the next morning during our batch release process,” said McCullough. “This gives our staff the ability to spot any issues with deliveries in real-time and to take immediate action when problems arise.” In addition, Chain of Custody record-keeping helps the Blood Center meet its regulatory obligations as well. “Inspectors love it,” said McCullough.
The system also allows managers in the Blood Centers labs to plan their work more efficiently. “Accurate and timely reporting on what’s coming to the lab means our component production and infectious disease testing staff can adjust work activity based on the volume that will soon arrive,” said McCullough.