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Tracking Blood Units in Medical Centers Using Passive UHF RFID Systems

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Integrating Curriculum and Labs in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1594.1 - 26.1594.14



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Paper Authors


Ghassan T Ibrahim Bloomsburg University

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Professor; Department of Physics & Engineering Technology
Teaching courses in communication systems and Radio Rrequncy Effects & Measurements. Research interest : RFID Systems and Applications, and Digtal Signal Processing.

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Michael J Dutko

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Mr. Michael J. Dutko earned a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering Technology from Bloomsburg University in 2010. His professional experience includes working for various manufactures of equipment in the Semiconductor, Pharmaceutical, and Power Industries. Currently employed by a prominent systems integrator, he enjoys applying knowledge attained through his academic experiences while he continues to build his career in the Automation Controls industry.

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TRACKING BLOOD UNITS IN MEDICAL CENTERS USING PASSIVE UHF RFID SYSTEMSAbstractDue to recent advances in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, industries utilizinga high level of logistics for their daily operations, began considering RFID based systems asmeans to implement and automate their operations. Hospitals are an example where thousands ofmedical instruments and supplies are transferred daily throughout the buildings. Using RFID tagsto track hospital items is a recent but not unexplored challenge. One such application is real timemonitoring and tracking blood units (bags) as they are transferred between the hospital bloodbank (BB) to and within the operating rooms.Consulting with the local medical center BB medical officers, the blood unit (BU) storage andhandling logistics were defined and an automated process for monitoring and tracking them wassuggested. A real time, efficient and cost effective ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID system wasproposed. This system utilizes very low cost passive tags, has a relatively long detection range,and a high detection rate making it most suitable for real time monitoring and tracking. A seniorelectronic engineering technology student was tasked with the project while performing anindependent research under the supervision of the faculty member. Two important and criticalproblems were identified. First was tracking the precise times the BUs are out of storage, andmonitoring their handling. The BUs must not be out of fridge for more than 30 minutes at anytime. Units that were not precisely logged for their out/in times were discarded with theconsequent loss of valuable donated blood as well as loss of capital. Second, realizing the factthat passive UHF RFID tags do not operate efficiently when placed on the liquid containers itwas essential to determine the type of passive tag most suitable to label the BUs. The researchwas done at the university radio frequency (RF) lab. Different types of passive tags performanceswere analyzed while placed on BUs filled with salted water. A scenario, simulating the BUhandling logistics, was successfully implemented using a visual basic program specificallydeveloped to track the blood units as they were handled in the simulated environment. Based onthe RF survey of the simulated environment, the RFID reader (transmitter) antennas werecarefully located to ensure precise real time tracking of the tagged units as they were movedfrom one location to another. Two types of tags were tested; low cost tags whose performance iscompletely degraded when placed on the BU, and the more expensive specially designed tagswhich can operate close to fluid environment. To avoid using the expensive tags the studentdeveloped an innovative effective solution to improve the performance of low cost tag whenplaced on the BU. The paper presents the research findings, their analysis, and the educationaloutcomes of performing research at the undergraduate level for EET students. The involvementof students in research is utmost importance. It provides an excellent venue for the student tointegrate the theoretical and practical knowledge gained during their educational period toanalyze and solve real world problems.References:[1] A. Gutierrez, J. Levitt, D. Reifert, T. Raife, B. Diol, R. Davis4 & R. Veeramani, “Tracking blood products inhospitals using radio frequency identification: Lessons from a pilot implementation”, ISBT Science Series (2013) 8,65–69.[2]Yannick Meiller, Sylvain Bureau, Wei Zhou, Selwyn Piramuthu, “Simulation of a Health Care Knowledge-basedSystem with RFID-generated Information, Asian Simulation Technology Conference”, March 1-3, 2010, Shanghaï,China.[3]Meiller, Y. and S. Bureau. “Logistics Projects: How to Assess the Right System? The Case of RFID Solutions inHealthcare”, the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) Proceedings 2009.

Ibrahim, G. T., & Dutko, M. J. (2015, June), Tracking Blood Units in Medical Centers Using Passive UHF RFID Systems Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24930

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