JPAC Joint United Kingdom (UK) Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation Services Professional Advisory Committee

4.1: Patient identification

A patient identification band (or risk-assessed equivalent) should be worn by all patients receiving a blood transfusion. The minimum identifiers on the band are:

  • Last name
  • First name
  • Date of birth
  • Unique patient ID number (wherever possible a national number such as the NHS No. in England and Wales, CHI No. in Scotland or HSC No. in Northern Ireland).

In emergency situations or where the patient cannot be immediately identified at least one unique identifier, such as A&E or trauma number, and patient gender should be used.

Wherever possible, patients for blood sampling or transfusion should be asked to state their full name and date of birth and this must exactly match the information on the identification band. To ensure accuracy and legibility, the ID band should be printed from the hospital’s computerised patient administration system, ideally at the bedside. Otherwise, verification of identity should be obtained, if possible, from a parent or carer at the bedside and checked against the identification band. Identification discrepancies at any stage of the transfusion process must be investigated and resolved before moving to the next stage.

Identification of patients, samples and blood components throughout the transfusion process can be enhanced by the use of electronic transfusion management systems using barcodes on ID bands and blood components and hand-held scanners linked to the laboratory information systems. Most UK hospitals still use manual ID checks at the bedside although electronic ‘blood-tracking’ systems to control access to blood refrigerators are in more widespread use.