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This is the final published article from the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, 2022 Aug 16;17(1):182.

The article is also available on the journal's website:

Copyright. The Authors.


BACKGROUND: The past half century has seen the near eradication of transfusion-associated hazards. Intraoperative cell salvage while widely used still poses significant risks and hazards due to human error. We report on a case in which blood collected from a patient with lung cancer was mistakenly administered to a patient undergoing cardiac surgery who should have received his own collected blood. The initial investigation found that the cause of the patient harm was violations of procedures by hospital personnel. A detailed investigation revealed that not only violations were the cause, but also that the underlying causes included haphazard organizational policies, poor communication, workload and staffing deficiencies, human factors and cultural challenges.

CASE PRESENTATION: On August 14, 2019, a 72-year-old male was admitted to our hospital for angina pectoris and multivessel coronary artery disease. Cardiac surgery was performed using an autologous salvage blood collection system, and there were no major problems other than the prolonged operation time. During the night after the surgery, when the patient's blood pressure dropped, a nurse retrieved a blood bag from the ICU refrigerator that had been collected during the surgery and administered it at the physician's direction, but at this time neither the physician nor the nurse performed the required checking procedures. The blood administered was another patient's blood taken from another surgery the day before; an ABO mismatch transfusion occurred and the patient was diagnosed with DIC. The patient was discharged 65 days later after numerous interventions to support the patient. An accident investigation committee was convened to analyze the root causes and develop countermeasures to prevent a recurrence.

CONCLUSION: This adverse event occurred because the protocol for intraoperative blood salvage management was not clearly defined, and the procedure was different from the standard transfusion practices. We developed a new workflow based on a human factors grounded, systems-wide improvement strategy in which intraoperative blood collection would be administered before the patient leaves the operating room to completely prevent recurrence, instead of simply requiring front-line staff to do a double-check. Implementing strong systems processes can reduce the risk of errors, improve the reliability of the work processes and reduce the likelihood of patient harm occurring in the future.



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