Blood type screening protects patients -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Blood type screening protects patients

February 24, 2003

Albany -- Can you feel confident when you are a patient in a hospital?

Duke University Hospital transplanted organs of the wrong blood type into a young girl last week, leading to her death. South Georgia hospitals say their safeguards protect patients from such accidents.

The medical technicians who work at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital were horrified by the errors at the Duke University Hospital that led to the death of 17-year-old Jesica Santillan. And it reminds them why they practice double checking safety measures.

The blood bank section manager, Lorraine Smallwood, said "With all the checks we do, it might delay the patient getting the unit of blood a minute or two minutes, but that's fine. Just as long as we know for sure that unit of blood that we cross matched here in the blood bank is compatible, and is for that particular patient."

There are eight types of blood and plasma distributed at hospitals. Phoebe's blood bank has a computer and technician check system to make sure a patient does not receive the wrong type.

Smallwood said, "We have two medical technologists confirm the ABO type of that tube of blood. Then the blood is cross matched, and entered into our computer system. And if for any reason as a safety check, if the ABO type of the unit the medical technologist pulls out of our refrigerator does not match the patients ABO type, the computer system stops, and won't allow the technologist to continue working anymore."

Smallwood says in the 15 years she has been at Phoebe, no one has received the wrong blood transfusion. But she says they look for ways to make their unit work safer and more reliable everyday.

Phoebe Putney began using a computer cross check system in their blood bank in 1991. They improved the system to clarify compatibility in 1998.

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