Inventory management is an essential element of blood product management. It applies to every stage of supplying and using blood and blood products, including:

  • ordering products
  • storing products
  • handling products
  • issuing products.

Managing blood and blood products

Good inventory management covers:

  • product availability – planning inventory levels held, order volume, and timing of deliveries
  • product integrity – controlling products in stock and handling them to maintain availability and minimise wastage.

Australian Health Providers (AHPs) need to manage blood and blood products effectively.

Not holding enough product could put patients at risk and disrupt routine services.

Holding too much product can increase the age of blood at transfusion and blood wastage. It can also deplete the supplier's inventory to insufficient levels.

Responsibilities

AHPs have responsibilities for effective inventory management under the:

  • National Stewardship Statement
  • Blood Management Standard.

Inventory management guidelines

To help AHPs manage blood product inventory more effectively, we developed the Managing Blood and Blood Product Inventory Guidelines for Australian Health Providers.

These guidelines have support or endorsements from the:

  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion (ANZSBT)
  • Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)
  • National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA).

You can download a PDF version of the guidelines.

Managing Group O RhD negative red blood cells

The NBA and Australian Red Cross Lifeblood are working together to manage increasing requests for group O RhD negative red blood cells across Australia. An analysis published in the Medical Journal of Australia(Opens in a new tab/window) in 2022 found that, while only 6.5% of the Australian population is group O RhD negative, group O RhD negative red blood cells represent up to 17% of issues to AHPs.

This means AHPs were issued with group O RhD negative units at almost 3 times the Australian population distribution rate.

As a result, we have worked with health professionals to create specific guidelines for managing group O RhD negative red blood cell inventory.

National Statement for the Emergency Use of Group O Red Blood Cells

The NBA, National Blood Transfusion Committee (Australian Red Cross Lifeblood), Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion, National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Australian College of Emergency Medicine have developed and published a joint national statement: National Statement for the Emergency Use of Group O Red Blood Cells (National Statement).

The NBA formed an expert working group consisting of representatives from key organisations, including:

  • National Blood Transfusion Committee
  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion
  • National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • Australian College of Emergency Medicine
  • Small and large jurisdictions – South Australia and Queensland
  • Independent experts from Queensland and New South Wales who have implemented a program in their hospital or jurisdiction.

The expert working group requested consultation on the National Statement from key professional clinical organisations and jurisdictions before finalisation.

National Guidance for the Management of Red Blood Cell Inventory

The National Guidance for the Management of Red Blood Cell Inventory (RBC Inventory Guidance) complements the National Statement.

It supports AHPs to:

  • implement the National Statement
  • reduce the national burden on group O RhD negative red blood cells.

RBC Inventory Guidance provides advice for AHPs to assist with reviewing their red blood cell inventory to:

  • reduce reliance on group O RhD negative red blood cells
  • maintain appropriate ABO and RhD blood group stock numbers that meet clinical need while maintaining an appropriate level to minimise time expiry.

National Statement for the Emergency Use of Clinical Plasma

The expert working group has also developed the National Statement for the Emergency Use of Clinical Plasma (National Plasma Statement) to address the ongoing supply strain of group AB clinical plasma.

Clinical plasma is only collected from group AB male donors at collection sites within range of a processing centre. This enables freezing the plasma within the regulated time frame (6 to 18 hours).

Using group A clinical plasma for emergency blood resuscitation is a safe option that provides clinical benefit and eases pressure on group AB donors and supplies.

Clinical plasma includes:

  • fresh frozen plasma
  • extended-life plasma
  • cryoprecipitate.

The expert working group requested consultation on the National Plasma Statement from key professional clinical organisations and jurisdictions before finalisation.

Tips for inventory management

We have also created 10 blood and blood product inventory management tips.

  1. Understand your inventory
  2. Provide expert training
  3. Set appropriate inventory levels
  4. Keep procedures simple
  5. Build collaborative relationships
  6. Use oldest product first
  7. Optimise crossmatching procedures
  8. Maintain all equipment appropriately
  9. Have a plan to conserve inventory in times of shortage
  10. Have a patient blood management program

Understanding and implementing these tips will help with more effective inventory management.

Posters and other resources

You can also download digital versions of our posters, guidelines and other inventory management resources.

Reduce Blood Wastage banner 1280px x 720px
Reduce Blood Wastage banner 1280px x 720px
Optimise Blood Management banner 1280px x 720px
Optimise Blood Management banner 1280px x 720px
Donate blood banner 1280px x 720px
Donate blood banner 1280px x 720px
Demand for red blood cells banner 1280px x 720px
Demand for red blood cells banner 1280px x 720px
Blood is a vital resource banner 1280px x 720px
Blood is a vital resource banner 1280px x 720px

You can find more resources about managing inventory on some of our partner websites:

Get in touch

If you have a query about managing blood and blood product inventory, please contact us.

Last updated: 27 Mar 2024

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