Strategies to reduce wastage of red blood cell units

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Background and objectives

Wastage of red blood cell units (RBCs) due to their inappropriate storage at the clinical ward has become both a financial and ethical challenge in the daily hospital practice. This study was aimed at identifying the extent of RBC wastage and evaluating the effects of various interventions in reducing this wastage.

Materials and methods

From January 2011 to March 2011, baseline wastage level was evaluated using temperature-sensitive labels. Following this initial analysis, various interventions were implemented, including modifying the transfusion practice, intensifying training of and communication with the medical staff and improving the transport conditions. The impact of these interventions on wastage was measured during two periods, and results were compared with baseline wastage level.


Based on the extent of label colouring, 7·5% of the units dispensed by the transfusion laboratory were determined as non-reusable at baseline. After implementation of the various interventions, wastage decreased to 1% of the units dispensed, potentially leading to an annual saving for our hospital of approximately €208·000/$230·600 on the total number of RBCs dispensed.


Relative straightforward interventions, such as raising awareness among medical staff and particularly improving transport conditions, had a clear impact on the level of RBC wastage, accommodating the financial issue not to waste public money as well as the ethical issue that RBC wastage should be as low as possible.

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