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Blood Type tags: do they actually check?

Discussion in 'First Aid Station' started by Tru7h, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Tru7h

    Tru7h Loaded Pockets

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    I know quite a few Marines / Army friends and family who come back with blood types sharpied on their boots and other semi-random places. Obviously they’re expected to know blood type and make it known. My question is for civilian life.

    Any EMT paramedics ER nurse/doctors etc who can answer this? I’m curious if it’s any help at all to have a blood type tag anywhere on your EDC. I can mark medical info on my phone available as emergency info or wear a WWJD OPOS bracelet, but does any of that ever get used? Do you guys search the person for this before giving blood or testing? If you see a tag reading ONEG or whatever do you trust it?
     
  2. FLbeachbum

    FLbeachbum Loaded Pockets

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    The short answer to all your questions is no.

    I was a paramedic for a couple of years (many years ago) and still have friends in the EMS field. The only thing I ever looked for was a medic alert tag. Granted this was way before everybody had cell phones so obviously things have changed in that time. My friends in EMS have all said they don't look for blood type info. But since they don't give blood in the field this makes sense.

    My personal opinion based on my limited knowledge of the medical profession (and hospital admin) is that they would not trust that info even if it was readily available. If they had to give someone blood NOW without time to test, they would just go to O neg. With the legal system being what it is and the possibility of malpractice why risk it? My personal opinion is that they wouldn't. For what it's worth to those who don't know, your doctor in a hospital setting has less freedom to treat you how he chooses than you might think.
     
  3. thekapow

    thekapow EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Im both EMT and RN and have extensive trauma care background in the hospital setting as well as prehospital. Until definitive blood test (done by a LAB) all patients in need of red blood cells will be given the same "O Negative".

    O Negative blood cells are called “universal” meaning they can be transfused to almost any patient in need. In the event of an emergency, trauma patients and accident victims are given a fighting chance at life due to O Negative blood transfusion. You may hear that “O Negative blood is the type they carry on the medical helicopters”. This is often the case when there is no time to ask questions.

    In extreme emergencies when O Negative is in short supply, sometimes O Positive can be substituted.

    - You patch will make no difference what so ever, other than looking cool.

    A bracelet with know allergies is a great idea (specially if you have any type 1 reactions - the ones you would carry an epipen for) Diabetes and heart and respiratory issues like copd, and meds like β-blockers (medication that are used to manage abnormal heart rhythms) would be great to know. It dosent hurt to insert the same information in your phone but its unlikely anyone in the hospital will look at it, personal items are often secured and held by then.

    - Your wallet is much more likely to be searched for identification by police and handed over to either ems or trauma team, so best place would maybe be a note on the back of your drivers license or health card etc. if you want info forwarded quickly.

    I hope this answers your question.
     
    Last edited by thekapow, Apr 4, 2018
    #3 thekapow, Apr 4, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
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  4. thekapow

    thekapow EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Just to add, its not only a legal issue - the risk and complications of using the wrong blood type is serious and a potentially fatal response to incompatible blood by your immune system. I would never trust a patch.
     
    Last edited by thekapow, Apr 4, 2018
    #4 thekapow, Apr 4, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  5. FLbeachbum

    FLbeachbum Loaded Pockets

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    I agree 100%. The complications of giving the wrong blood was my point in mentioning the legal system and malpractice. I apologize if that was unclear. Sometimes what is going on inside my head doesn't translate clearly to the written form. It's been a life long problem.
     
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  6. neo71665

    neo71665 Loaded Pockets

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    As for my very limited medical training from the fire dept we were told to not trust anything like that. Who says your not borrowing your brother in laws bag with his patch. The medical alert bracelets and necklaces are a bit different. You wear one saying your diabetic I promise the hospital will check (as well as your blood type) to make sure. That's just something to watch out for. I have one I have on my keys. My blood type is A+ and frankly everybody that sees it that comments thinks it means something else. A POS, I'll let you work it out.

    I'll also note to those that carry their info on USB stick drives. Last I heard both local to me hospitals will not plug anything outside into their computers so you might as well not carry anything. Chance of transferring some computer virus stuff is the reason I was told. I can't think of any ambulance or our trucks equipped with anything to read it either.

    My rant for the day. If you are wearing a medical condition bracelet make it good and known. Sorry ladies it seems this will be more towards you. When a first responder shows up to treat you we do not have the time to break out a magnifying glass and read the 8000 charms on your bracelet to see some micro sized tag you thought was so cute and didn't clash with your outfit. If you are gonna wear one make sure it is easily identified as such. Just because you have a cute colored ribbon does not mean I know what condition every color in the world associates with. Some of those a single color is claimed by 20+ different awareness groups (https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/awareness/ribbons.php) am I supposed to guess what you have?
     
  7. ffmedic245

    ffmedic245 Loaded Pockets

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    We're talking about people who can't even remember (if they even know) what medicine they take, let alone the dosages. And who give a different story to each provider they talk to. No, I wouldn't trust a patch either. I trust my stethoscope, my BP cuff, and probably my Lifepak. We don't give blood in a trauma anyways, at least not in the ER.

    Full disclosure, I do have them on my work bag, but it's more kewl factor. I have no expectations of anyone actually having to look at my bag to treat me for something.
     
  8. charlie fox

    charlie fox Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, but they verify it before starting any blood or blood products, always.
     
  9. ArkansasFan30

    ArkansasFan30 Loaded Pockets

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    Ditto.

    No clinician is going to order or administer blood based on a tag, patch, or anything else not in place by the clinical staff. It's a huge screw up with some rather bad outcomes for all involved to administer the wrong type of blood products.

    In the non military world, any blood type insignia is a moot point and worn for looks rather than function.

    Type and cross isn't time consuming.
     
  10. Stinson12

    Stinson12 Loaded Pockets

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    I give blood in the field all the time as a flight paramedic.
     
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  11. FLbeachbum

    FLbeachbum Loaded Pockets

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    Flight medics are a whole different deal.
    And unless the patient's blood type is known (tested in a lab) I'm guessing you're giving O neg.
     
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  12. twin63

    twin63 Loaded Pockets

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    My background is 33 years as a lab tech/blood banker. I currently serve as the Transfusion Safety Officer for a regional health system. As others have already stated, a blood type tag/card/bracelet/etc. is never used to select blood for a transfusion. In traumas/massive transfusions, O- (or O+ in some cases) red cells are given until a patient blood type can be obtained. With current protocols and test methods, this can be accomplished fairly quickly. @thekapow is correct in that transfusing blood of an incompatible type can be fatal. Regulations and guidelines are very strict for this reason in regards to testing, patient identification, blood selection, etc.

    I remember a handful of times early in my career having military vets question their blood types after we had tested them. I was told by a senior tech that it was not uncommon to see cards and dog tags with the wrong blood type. I don't think this is an issue now, but just one example of why you confirm the blood type every time.
     
  13. MCPOWoller

    MCPOWoller Loaded Pockets

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    Excuse my ignorance on this matter but what are the differences in the blood types. Such as: what make O+ different than AB- and so on? Also, how is the blood tested to find it’s “type”?

    I’m A+ according to the Navy. Whenever my Combat Camerman deployed, the operators always had us write blood type on boots, left chest of T-shirt and inside the cuff of our BDU’s. Plus I had to write “No PCN”. From what I’m reading here, it was all for naught?
     
  14. twin63

    twin63 Loaded Pockets

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    Without getting too complicated, your blood type is determined by the antigens (proteins, glycoproteins) that coat the surface of your red blood cells. Testing is performed with known antibodies. In your case, A antigens on your red cells agglutinate when tested with A antibody (Anti-A). This is how we determine the ABO type (O, A, B, or AB). The RH factor (positive or negative) is tested in the same way. When incompatible blood is transfused, the body mounts an immune response to destroy what it sees as foreign. It can be very severe and in some cases fatal.

    Many of our current massive transfusion protocols have come from the military's experience and studies over the last 20 years or so. However, as you are aware, battlefield medicine has it's own requirements that differ from the civilian side. I can't speak to specifics, but what you were required to do as far as having your blood type visible was likely the process that was needed in combat situations. So, not necessarily for naught - just not what is practiced in civilian cases. Hope this helps!
     
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  15. Chiles

    Chiles Loaded Pockets

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    Current paramedic and no, I've never checked for blood type on a single patient.
     
  16. MCPOWoller

    MCPOWoller Loaded Pockets

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    Sorry for the late response. But this is a HUGE eye opener! Very very helpful!
     
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  17. TakeDeadAim

    TakeDeadAim Loaded Pockets

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    Recently retired (25 year) Paramedic with critical care and tactical endorsements. YES, I checked and sure Im sure the hospital, (civilian) would type and cross prior to administering blood products. In a military or tactical scenario that is different. High risk personal are tested, results documented and in the possession of the teams medic and made available to emergency personal as needed. If your not looking; I'd suggest starting. Gathering any and all available history is a very basic part of patient care.

    Sure I've had the patients that don't know their meds, history or allergies. In fact that was the major factor in me making one of my community education projects to make those teachable moments and to go into nursing homes and assisted living centers and work with the Vile of life program to get people to document their heath information and have it available on them and in their homes.
     
  18. Swe_Nurse

    Swe_Nurse Loaded Pockets

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    Is it?

    I have read about the subject quite a bit, I've talked to medical personnel from several countries (mostly military, some law enforcement) and I have not managed to dig up any information of anyone transfusing blood products based on blood type written on gear. I haven't even been able to find any guidelines regarding the subject. Have you ever acted on blood type tags on a bag, a vest or whatever? Have you seen or heard of anyone giving typed blood based on a velcro patch or duct tape with a blood type written by a sharpie? Would you?

    It just doesn't make sense to do so, if you are at a level of care that is capable of transfusing blood that unit can type and match and/or it is stocked with 0- blood. Then at the first possible moment you type and match.

    A further complication is that a fair number of blood types on government issued dog tags are wrong, I'm willing to bet a lot that the velcro patches have an even higher discrepancy.