HSIB’s latest report highlights that mislabelling of blood samples could pose a deadly risk to patients.

The reference event in the report is a case where patient details became mixed up on blood samples sent from a maternity unit. In the case of mislabelling on blood transfusion samples, the impact could be devastating. There’s the potential for serious injuries and even death. But, even the delay in care resulting from wrong blood test results could cause significant psychological distress to patients.

Wrong blood in tube
National data from SHOT (Serious Hazards of Transfusion) indicates there were 792 ‘wrong blood in tube’ near misses (where the error was spotted in time and no patient suffered harm) relating to blood transfusion samples, in 2018 across England. This doesn’t account for blood samples taken for any other purpose.

HSIB investigation showed why these incidents happen and most importantly what can be done to reduce the risk of it happening again. The investigation looked at all the factors involved and found evidence to show that electronic systems could help staff in busy environments, by making the processes easier and more efficient, to manage and reduce the risk to patients.