30 October 2010
Temperature monitoring of blood products
The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) offers an invaluable service to South Africans in the provision of blood and blood products, as well as the research and training the organisation undertakes.
Ravi Reddy, chief operations officer, explains that SANBS collects approximately 3000 units of whole blood daily. “These units are then processed into components such as red cells, plasma and platelets at processing centres,” he says. “Every unit of blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis. The negative units are then stored in refrigerated blood banks in hospitals around the country prior to usage. Maintaining the cold chain is extremely important to ensure that the quality of the blood is not compromised.”
To ensure that the units are kept at the correct temperatures at all times, SANBS uses the services of wireless machine to machine (M2M) communication solutions provider, Beyond Wireless.
“We were looking for a temperature monitoring solution for our blood banks that are not operational on a 24 hour basis,” says Reddy. “There are many units of blood stored in these and we required an early warning system that could remotely alert a technician when the temperature of the fridge goes out of an acceptable range. We met with Beyond Wireless and they were able to propose a system to meet our requirements. After an initial period of evaluation we were happy that this was the system for us.”
The wireless monitoring solution allows SANBS to monitor fridges and freezers 24 hours a day, seven days a week – even when there are no staff on duty. This is achieved through Internet protocol technologies that support data-logging, configurable alarms, real-time reporting and corrective action tracking, all accessible through a secure and easy to use web interface.
This means that if a fridge malfunctions, the technician on call is notified immediately via SMS and can take corrective action to rectify the problem or transfer the blood before it exceeds the acceptable temperature range.
Reddy points out that this is of the utmost importance because blood products have to be stored between 1 and 6°C for the red cells to remain healthy. “As per the regulations and standards of practice, blood products cannot be used if the temperature of the product is out of specification for a given period.
“The benefits of this system are enormous. It provides an instant alert in the case of a problem, and allows for continuous monitoring and tracking of temperature. Datalogs are available for each unit being monitored and these can be accessed by the relevant SANBS staff from any computer with an Internet connection. Additionally, a number of devices in a blood bank can be managed with just one Beyond Wireless unit. Beyond Wireless was able to tailor a solution that suited our specific requirements,” he concludes.