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Overlake Hospital, blood center start new system for patients

Puget Sound Blood Center blood bank coordinator Andrea Nordmark shows the new HemoSafe, an automated refrigerator for remote allocation of donated blood at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue on Wednesday. - Chad Coleman, Bellevue Reporter
Puget Sound Blood Center blood bank coordinator Andrea Nordmark shows the new HemoSafe, an automated refrigerator for remote allocation of donated blood at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue on Wednesday.
— image credit: Chad Coleman, Bellevue Reporter

Overlake Hospital Medical Center and the Puget Sound Blood Center (PSBC) are the first hospital and centralized blood bank in the nation to implement an innovative new process called Remote Allocation.

For patients who qualify for Remote Allocation, the process allows blood to be stored and distributed from the hospital lab. This eliminates transport time for red cells and thawed plasma from PSBC, which in turn increases patient safety and hospital efficiency.

The new technology is actually a “smart refrigerator” called a HemoSafe with a design similar to a vending machine. It is located in Overlake’s Laboratory Blood Bank and is electronically connected to the Puget Sound Blood Center.

The new technology replaces the traditional process of cross-matching, transporting and storing blood that may never be used. Instead, the HemoSafe is stocked with an appropriate inventory of blood and plasma. When a patient requires a transfusion, blood is electronically cross-matched for them by PSBC. This automatically assigns the appropriate unit of blood in Overlake’s HemoSafe to the patient.

When the blood is needed, a trained medical professional with secure access simply inputs the patient’s information into the HemoSafe and the proper type of blood is dispensed.

“We worked closely with the Puget Sound Blood Center for more than two years to develop the Remote Allocation project and we’re so pleased to be the first hospital in the nation to deploy it,” said Craig Hendrickson, Overlake’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The new state-of-the-art system greatly benefits our patients and gives our medical staff faster and easier access to blood when needed for patient care.”

The system is managed by sophisticated inventory management software called BloodTrack and the inventory of blood is monitored and restocked by the Puget Sound Blood Center daily. This inventory is also visible to Overlake Lab staff via a computer screen.

If patients are eligible, units can quickly be assigned by PSBC and issued by the Overlake Lab to the patient. It is estimated that more than 85 percent of patients are eligible for Remote Allocation.

The system greatly increases patient safety, because human error is significantly reduced by having automated technology retrieve the correct unit for the patient. This technology also brings the blood closer to the patient so that it can be delivered to them much faster.

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