Skip to main content

Managing the availability and safety of blood and blood products

Strategies are used to effectively manage the availability and safety of blood and blood products.

Health service organisations, the National Blood Authority (NBA) and manufacturers in the blood supply chain play an important role in understanding where blood and blood products are being held. This total picture of the national inventory of blood and blood products is important to ensure that products are held in the most appropriate place so that they can be provided to health services to meet clinical need.

BloodNet is a system that allows health service organisations to enter their inventory levels, and assists in building the picture of the national inventory. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service produces a National Inventory Template relating to fresh blood products held at the Blood Service and health service organisations, which is distributed to health service organisations that receive blood and blood products. In addition, reporting on inventory is available through BloodNet.

Managing blood and blood product inventory involves two key factors, and both processes are required to ensure that blood and blood products are safe:

  • Product availability and security – planning of inventory levels held, timing of deliveries and order volume
  • Product quality and integrity – physical and process control of product in the organisation to ensure efficient and effective handling to maintain availability and minimise wastage.

The Stewardship Statement states that health service organisations should have processes, programs and systems in place that ensure the safe and efficient receipt, storage and transport of blood and blood products, and that minimise wastage of these products. National blood product planning, management and governance are supported by:

  • Health service organisations having an ordering and receipt verification process in place that provides appropriate financial accountability, as required by governments
  • Inventory data that are provided on a regular and timely basis to assist in supply and demand planning requirements, especially in times of national shortages.

Many of the risks associated with receipt, storage, collection and transport of blood and blood products can be avoided with adequate systems and processes. Monitor systems for cold chain integrity, sample collection, cross-matching, product collection and inventory management, including storage, handling and transport. Identify and manage weak spots that increase the risk of human error, handling, patient harm or wastage.

As described in Action 7.1, these should align with best-practice standards and guidelines.

Inventory management encompasses all the activities associated with ordering, storing, handling and issuing blood products. Good inventory management ensures appropriate use of this precious resource. Not holding enough product can potentially put patients at risk or disrupt routine services. However, too much inventory can deplete products held by the supplier to insufficient levels, increase the age of blood at transfusion and increase wastage.

The NBA is responsible for ensuring enough supply of blood and blood products to meet clinical needs. The National Blood Supply Contingency Plan is designed to guide the NBA and other relevant stakeholders in facilitating and coordinating a national response in the event of a domestic threat or disaster that affects the provision of a safe and adequate blood supply in Australia. The response by the clinical community is a vital element of the plan. Organisations should have arrangements in place to support the clinical management of blood and blood products in a crisis, and to help clinicians effectively respond to patient requirements.


Storing, distributing and tracing blood and blood products

Availability of blood

Back to top