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Right patient, right blood: advice for safer blood transfusions

NPSA/2008/SPN14 | 09 November 2006

This Safer Practice Notice (SPN) sets out measures to improve the safety of blood transfusions, including photo identification cards for regular patients and electronic tracking systems for patients and blood.

Blood transfusions involve a complex sequence of activities and, to ensure the right patient receives the right blood, there must be strict checking procedures in place at each stage. Administering the wrong blood type (ABO incompatibility) is the most serious outcome of error during transfusions. Most of these incidents are due to the failure of the final identity checks carried out between the patient (at the patient's side) and the blood to be transfused.

Note added: March 2012


Since these blood transfusion competencies were developed the British Committee for Standards in Haematology guidelines have been updated.


The competencies on this website are still considered to promote safe practice.


Any revisions to the competencies and supporting competency assessment frameworks will be led by Skills for Health (England) and the Welsh Blood Service Better Blood Transfusion team (Wales.)


You should review the content on these websites as applicable to ensure you are using the most up to date versions of the competencies. 


Further advice on the competencies in Wales is available from Karen Shreeve at the Welsh Blood Service.


Better Blood Transfusion Team

Welsh Blood Service

Ffordd yr Hen Gae, Bocam Park

Pencoed, CF35 5LJ


T: 01443 622 313

E:  Karen Shreeve


Action 2: compatibility form

Action 3: examine local procedures

UPDATE: Electronic Clinical Transfusion Management System: specific requirements – amendment to 'Use Case 11'

Preliminary findings from the pilot of the Electronic Clinical Transfusion Management System, funded by NHS Connecting for Health, being undertaken at Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust have identified difficulties with the implementation of Use Case 11, which is about collection of blood from the issue fridge. 

If you are in the process of implementing the Electronic Clinical Transfusion Management System in your organisation our advice is to review locally the most appropriate way to ensure timely collection of the correct product from the issue fridge when required.

Safer Practice Notice

Right patient, right blood: advice for safer blood transfusions  - thumbnail image
Right patient, right blood [pdf]

See also

Consultation report

Report of a consultation with patients to find out about their experiences of patient identification during blood transfusions.

Patient consultation report [pdf]