What Is a Blood Bank System?

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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2018
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A blood bank system is a method for managing stored blood products. Hospitals and other facilities maintain stores of blood, plasma, platelets, and other blood products for use in medical treatments; each is categorized in terms of blood type and other factors. Medical personnel can access the products they need by searching their hospital bank, expanding to sources at other facilities when necessary.

Excessive blood loss eventually leads to death. When it was first discovered that blood from one person could be transferred to another with life-saving results, direct transfusions became a viable treatment option. Over a period of time the process became more sophisticated as medical science found ways to take blood from healthy donors and save it until it was needed. These donations are identified and tracked in a blood bank system.

When tracking and storing was first begun, each blood bank system operated independently. Both blood and blood products were hand-labeled and manually logged into the records. It was up to the people managing the system to track the date the blood was donated and when it was due to expire. Since each system was typically handled locally, it was sometimes hard to find the appropriate blood when it was needed. As a rule, donor information was not readily accessible, if it was available at all.


A modern blood bank system involves computers that use special software to track all blood products, uses and results on all tests done on the blood. The software can integrate with hospitals and laboratories to simplify data collection and information sharing. Many such systems also track patient information, including blood type, allergies and concerns related to the use of blood products.

When a hospital requires blood for a patient transfusion, the first place the staff checks is the hospital’s own blood bank system. This immediately identifies what blood is on site. If the right kind of blood is not available at the hospital, the blood bank system allows medical personnel to query a wider area to find what is needed. Typically, though, a very widespread search would only be used in the case of a significant emergency, such as an earthquake, plane crash or other event that impacts many people.

Another type of system is in use to identify and track stored cord blood, the blood from the umbilical cord of newborn babies. Cord blood normally belongs to the person that has placed it in storage, it is necessary to be able to identify the stored blood at all times, so that it can be retrieved if it is ever needed. Usually each storage facility has its own blood bank system for this, and cord blood information tends to only be available locally.



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